Book Review – Bounce by Matthew Syed

This book has been around for a few years now and I think it is fair to say has certainly become a conversation piece amongst both athletes (ahem) and coaches.

The premise of the book is to explore whether elite athletes are more naturally talented or if they have done more purposeful practice, the book is centred around the belief that to become world class you need to have about 10000 hours of purposeful practice.

In my house just the purchasing of the book prompted intense discussion between me and my boy, who said it is rubbish and was sick of having it’s principals told to him constantly during his school life. He has never read the book.

I will be honest, when I am not good at a sport I am guilty of saying I am not a natural whatever, but having read the book and now understanding it more, what I should be saying is I am less practised at the sport and need to invest more time and purposeful practice to improve.

The book quotes various studies throughout it’s course and uses these to back up the principal theory and the examples obviously are designed to suit the arguments, he does offer up the counter arguments but these are not explored in as much detail.

I have to say I am not a complete convert to the theory, but the idea that purposeful practice designed to work on your weaknesses is better than practicing the things you are already good at is something I do agree with, and is something I am going to be incorporating into my swim training.

Should you read the book, yes and then make your own mind up about whether you agree with his ideas or not.

I know some coaches and school teachers who are complete converts and also I know people who are completely against the idea as they maintain the elite sportsman simply are more talented. For those of us who operate well below the elite level there is plenty in the book we can take and so I would say go read it, if nothing else it is certainly a conversation piece.

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