The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

The Talent Code is a very interesting book for anyone learning and trying to become talented in their chosen activity.  It is also good for people wanting to coach these people as it also looks at it from the coaches point of view. The book mainly goes through case studies of different coaches and talented individual from different talent ‘hotbeds’.  These talent hotbeds are different places from around the world which all tend to have some similar ideas on how to practice your specific skill.

The book has 10 chapters split into 3 parts as follows:


Part 1. Deep Practice

  • 1. The Sweet Spot
  • 2. The Deep Practice Cell
  • 3. The Brontes, the Z-Boys, and the Renaissance
  • 4. The Three Rules of Deep Practice

Part 2. Ignition

  • 5. Primal Cues
  • 6. The Curacao Experiment
  • 7. How to Ignite a Hotbed

Part 3. Master Coaching

  • 8. The talent Whisperers
  • 9. The Teaching Circuit: A Blueprint
  • 10. Tom Martinez and $60 Million Bet

Epilogue: The Myelin World

The Difficult Chapter

I did struggle to get past chapter 2 where he talks about myelin in great depth.  It is good to know about the science of how your habits are formed. He scientifically proves how habits can’t be broken but other newer habits can be made to overcome old bad habits, all because of myelin. Nerve fibres get wrapped in myelin and the more you practice a habit, the more the myelin wraps around the nerve fibre and the bigger it gets. There is no way you can reduce this myelin once it wraps around the nerve.

The Best Chapter

One of the best part of this book though is the final section where it gives you tips on how to be a great coach.  This might not be your end goal but if you have kids and you want to them to do well, it gives you examples on how and what to say and do to give them the right amount of encouragement and motivation to do well. There is a blueprint of what master coaches all have in common as follows:

The four virtues of a master coach
  1. The Matrix – task specific knowledge that allows great teachers to respond creatively and effectively to a student’s effort. A great teacher has the capacity to take it deeper to see the learning the student is capable of and to go there.
  2. Perceptiveness – Each person is different so each person gets treated differently. Master coaches get to know their students so they can customise their communications with them.
  3. The GPS reflex – You have to give them a lot of information. They don’t say please can you do this but now do this. You have to shock them and then shock them so more.
  4. Theatrical honesty – Many of the coaches radiate a subtle theatrical air.  Drama and character are the tools master coaches use to reach the students with the truth about their performances.

The whole book is good to get an overall understanding on how to achieve success in whatever you are practicing.  It has examples of playing the clarinet, playing football and baseball, studying in class and even dating for shy people.




3 thoughts on “The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

  1. It did feel a bit of a slog in parts while I was reading it. However, I kept thinking of how I could maybe apply it to my daughters which kept me going! Both my daughters are different so I think they will both learn differently and respond to different things but I have no idea what yet and how to encourage them to keep going.


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