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Deep practice is the key to success

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. by Coyle, Daniel (unknown Edition) [Paperback(2010)] - Daniel Coyle

In chapter 1 of his book “The talent Code”, Coyle supports the argument that deep practice is the key to success. How does he define “deep practice”? In page 18, Coyle defines deep practice as “experiences where you’re forced to slow down, make errors and correct them”. In other words, one is doing deep practice when one is putting himself or herself into doing something instead of observing others. The process of deep practice can bring difficulties and one is subject of making mistakes. However, what makes the process of deep practice successful is that one can learn from the mistakes and can correct them. So, this definition of “Deep Practice” lets us understand that it takes hard work, dedication, and learning from the mistakes you make in order to achieve success. How is this argument supported through Coyle’s text? We will see the premises presented by Coyle through some examples. How relevant is this argument? Can it be applicable in all situations in life?

Coyle supports his argument by presenting examples of some dedicated people that he met during several trips that he made around the world. The first example concerns Coyle’s visit with some talented hotbeds. Speaking of that experience in page 12 Coyle goes on to say that “for half of the time, being in a talent hotbed felt like standing amid a herd of running deer: everything moved faster and more fluently than in everyday life. During the other half I witnessed something very different: moments of slow fitful struggle, rather like what I’d seen on the Clarissa video” (page 12). That experience led Coyle realize that “Making progress became a matter of small failures” (page 13).

The second series of examples considered by Coyle to support the argument that “Deep practice is the key to success” concern one boy whose name is Brunio and a young woman whose name is Jennie. They both struggled in their respective fields to get better at what they do. Brunio, who was working on a soccer move, struggled a lot to get it right and so was Jennie who tried hardly to hit the perfect note in her rehearsal as a singer (page 13). That experience of Coyle makes us understand that nothing comes easy in life. We have to work hard to reach the level we want.

In addition, Coyle considered the Brazilian soccer as a third example to support his claim. Coyle mentioned that “Brazil won the world cup five times and has nine hundred or so young talents signed each year by professional European clubs”(Page 14). He also referred in page 14 to some extraordinary stars like Pelé, Zico, Socrates, Romario, Ronaldo, Juninho, Robinho, Ronaldinho, and Kaka that Brazil carries. These soccer players are considered as the world’s best players. To the question “How could Brazil always produce such great talents?” Coyle answered in page 15 that “Brazilian players have trained in a particular way, with a particular tool that improves ball-

handling skill faster than anywhere else in the world”. Because Brazilian players have used the formula of “Deep Practice” that is why they become such great players.

How relevant is Coyle’s argument? Can someone become very good at something just by doing it himself without observing others first?

While it is true that practicing something over and over again is susceptible of making someone good at it but that doesn’t mean we have to exclude observations. Although it is true that we can learn from our own mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from somebody else’s mistakes.

By considering the example of the Brazilian players in page 14, Coyle failed to mention that those players had a coach to guide them in order to become excellent at what they do. They had at some point somebody to teach them some strategies related to the sport of soccer. So, practicing on their own itself would have not been enough to make the Brazilian players great.

In real life, Coyle’s argument can be applicable but we need to keep in mind that besides our dedication and learning from our mistakes, we also need others to succeed most of the time. Witnessing or observing somebody’s failure or taking someone else’s advice can also put us on the right track for success. So while Coyle’s argument is true we need to consider the importance of observations and learning from other people as well.



Coyle, Daniel, The Talent Code, New York: Bantam Dell, 2009. Book.


Review done by Jean Elie Foreste