Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

Matthew Syed, Author . Harper $25.99 (312p) ISBN 978-0-06-172375-9

Syed, sportswriter and columnist for the London Times , takes a hard look at performance psychology, heavily influenced by his own ego-damaging but fruitful epiphany. At the age of 24, Syed became the #1 British table tennis player, an achievement he initially attributed to his superior speed and agility. But in retrospect, he realizes that a combination of advantages—a mentor, good facilities nearby, and lots of time to hone his skills—set him up perfectly to become a star performer. He admits his argument owes a debt to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers , but he aims to move one step beyond it, drawing on cognitive neuroscience research to explain how the body and mind are transformed by specialized practice. He takes on the myth of the child prodigy, emphasizing that Mozart, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, and Susan Polgar, the first female grandmaster, all had live-in coaches in the form of supportive parents who put them through a ton of early practice. Cogent discussions of the neuroscience of competition, including the placebo effect of irrational optimism, self-doubt, and superstitions, all lend credence to a compelling narrative; readers who gobbled up Freakonomics and Predictably Irrational will flock to this one. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/08/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-06-172376-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-201596-9
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-0-06-194624-0
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-199139-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-200901-2
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