In 2006, Daniel Coyle began visiting tiny places around the world that produce mounts of talent, in his quest to determine how individuals achieve top performance in disciplines such as music, sports, and painting among others. These places are microcosm of larger patterns and forces at work in nurturing highly skilled performers.
In “The Sweet Spot” the author examines an element that make certain places around the world produce “hotbeds” of talent. That element is “deep practice”. The key concept in deep practice is active or attentive learning. It consists in choosing a task, and within that task an attainable goal beyond your present abilities (pgs.14, 18). Then, break that task into ...view middle of the document...
The only common link between Brunio and Jenny is that both are following the same method: practicing intensely moves and notes, making mistakes, stopping, and then trying again, breaking down moves and musical notes into their parts. Until something clicks: one nails the elastic move, and the other sings the song perfectly. They are operating at the edge of their abilities, making mistakes, but becoming better in the process (13).
Coyle then marshals evidence from a larger scenario, Brazil with its World Cup victories, many talents signed by European soccer teams, and parade of star players such as Pelé, Zico, and Kaka, and countless others. The author argues that the success of Brazilian soccer in all its facets is a particular game practiced by soccer players. The game´s name is futsao o saloon soccer, played in a basketball sized court, by only five or six players, with a smaller and heavier ball. The smaller court and number of players allow touching the ball more often, while the smaller and heavier ball demands more precise handling, thus allowing players to develop their skills better than anywhere else in the world (p.15).
Brazilian soccer players are good because futsao is equivalent to a simulator that allows performers to practice more deeply, stop, struggle, make errors, and learn from them. Just as a pilot can learn to take off and land a dozen times on an instrument, a soccer player can practice for hours “a series of quick, controlled passes” in the small back alleys and streets of Brazil, with no need of a large soccer field.
At first sight, the “sweet spot” sounds like a “get good quick” recipe, with its emphasis on a particular tool to develop skills as opposed to innate talent, geography or socioeconomic condition. But in reality, Coyle´s “deep practice” is part of new research in Psychology that expounds that the most basic abilities develop through dedication and hard work.
For example, Carol Dweck, the Stanford University Psychologist and author of the “Growth Mindset”, argues that learning and excellence comes from what...