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  #11  
Old 07-19-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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I caught that too and I am trying to think through it a bit. He says that the myelin is alive and therefore constantly remodeling. That explains the need for constant practice.

Terry has mentioned that when he had is injuries that kept him out of the water for months at a time, he was able to get back into form relatively quickly (I believe he said days instead of months like we usually hear).

I think that once the circuit is wrapped it cannot be unwrapped. But the thickness of the myelin sheath can be modified and therefore the level (think stroke rate or speed) that you can hold a technique must be maintained.

But I am still trying to process this. When I have some spare time, I will try to find Coyle's email so I can ask him directly.

The other big question that I missed is "Why is struggle necessary?" The way I read the myelin story, if someone can do the perfect technique easily and with focus, it should still cause the myelin to form. I believe he said it is the intensity and accuracy of the firing pattern that matters. I think I missed something in that, but I can't find it.

I'll post later on part 2: ignition (motivation).
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachEricD View Post
But I am still trying to process this. When I have some spare time, I will try to find Coyle's email so I can ask him directly.
djcoyle@thetalentcode.com

Perhaps the circuits are still intact, but we must re-learn how to access them? Like the way we can have a memory that we can't access unless we reconstruct some of the thoughts surrounding it.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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That sounds reasonable to me. I emailed Coyle today. We'll see what he comes back with.
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  #14  
Old 07-20-2009
stevereagan stevereagan is offline
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Default The Talent Code

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Originally Posted by shuumai View Post
Earlier in part 1 of the book, it said that once circuits are formed, they are permanent. Habits that are hard to break were an example. It said that newer circuits need to be formed to replace the unwanted circuits, or something like that. Later in part 1, it said that people need to keep practising to maintain their circuits, especially as they age. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like a contradiction.
That makes sense to me. I think what is being said is that its not enough to simply "burn in" these circuits; they have to be used on a regular basis as well if one is to get maximum benefit. Nonetheless even with minimal use they don't go away. Picture riding a bike growing up, then starting to cycle again after many years of no cycling at all. You don't have to learn how to ride all over again, but you may be quite rusty and need to practice for a while to fully regain your skills. I surmise that that is the point being made.

Looking forward to reading this book!

-- Steve
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  #15  
Old 07-20-2009
ayesr ayesr is offline
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Default Vices, as habits

Are vices, i.e., smoking, etc., included in the context of Mr. Coyle's book?

End.
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2009
terry terry is offline
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Eric
Thanks for starting this topic here and for sharing your own cool connections from reading The Talent Code.
I actually did post something on my blog that originated from my reading of the book. I have been assiduously making notes of all the connections I've made from the book to my experience learning and teaching swimming, and they have been many and voluminous. I'll post them in various blog posts, but have done only one so far because our web developers have been preparing a new blog site for me which has been supposed to launch for weeks now. Waiting for it has slowed my posting.

The inspiration for this book was an article Coyle published in March 2007 in the NY Times magazine supplement PLAY How to Grow a Super Athlete. I read that article with incredible excitement and described the role of myelin in the development of skills into habits in my soon-to-be released book on open water swimming - Outside the Box.
I posted something on this forum about that article when I read it.

I've just begun reading another book on the same topic, Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin published contemporaneously with Coyle's book. I wondered if the two books might cover much of the same ground, but I'm excited to see they do so in a supplementary and complementary manner. Coyle's book focuses heavily on excellent performance in sports skills. Colvin's relates it more to everyday living. Good stuff.

I first became intrigued by this idea about 6 years ago at our first Kaizen Camp in Coral Springs. First day as we shot video, one of the campers showed a freestyle of unusual grace and flow -- the equal of the best of TI Coaches. I asked where he learned it and he replied "From you." He reminded me he'd attended a TI workshop I led in Chapel Hills 18 months earlier. I was dumbfounded to recall him. First, he'd been 90 lbs heavier - he lost the weight primarily through swim skills practice. Second, he had been by far the most challenged swimmer in the class, happy to complete a length of very drill-like whole stroke at the end.

I'm used to seeing people improve after learning TI but this was of such a dramatically different order I became curious about what enables someone to take the same learning experience others have and accomplish so much more. That made me realize that if his learning process could be codified and described, it would be of enormously greater value than simply teaching people a more efficient freestyle.

I began researching the topic online, which led me to Anders Ericsson Ph.D. and the Excellence Project, a scholarly study of whether masterful performance is a product of inborn traits or learned behaviors. I recognized immediately that the central element of learning excellence -- a behavior they called "Deliberate Practice" had all the elements of the Examined Swimming we had long promoted.

I subsequently wrote an article for Total Swim entitled "Can you Learn Talent?" which I've reprinted in a few other places.

I strongly recommend both books. By the way, Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers, covers much of the same ground. This seems to be one of the hottest topics in cognitive research and human potential these days. And learning to swim strikes me as the perfect field for testing and proving these ideas because such a tiny proportion of the human race are born with a knack for doing it well.
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2009
terry terry is offline
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Here are some notes I made from Chapter 2. Enjoy.

1) Every human movement, thought or sensation is produced by a precisely-timed electrical signal transmitted through a circuit of nerve cells. (2) Myelin is a fatty substance that wraps bundles of nerve fibers, increasing signal strength, speed, accuracy and reliability. (3) The more often and more consistently we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger and faster our movements, perceptions and intentions become.
Good athletes in training are sending more precise signals along circuits the rest of us lack.
Passion, patience and persistence are critical ingredients because wrapping myelin around a big and complex circuit requires immense attention, energy and time. If you don’t love it you’ll never work hard enough to be great.
Each time you practice anything – singing, swinging (bat or racket or club) or swimming – a unique circuit transmits impulses from a region of the brain to a specific set of muscle fibers.
The input is anything that happens prior to the action – our kinesethetic sense of body and limb position and alignment, and various forces acting upon them, along with our intentions and thoughts. The output is the movement. The signals activate muscles with particular timing, speed and force. These circuits are the actual control centers of every human movement, thought and skill.
The term “muscle memory” refers to these circuits.
The more we develop a skill circuit, the less aware we are of using it. Humans are programmed to make important skills – those we perform most often –automatic. At that point it feels complete.
Why does it take so long to learn complex skills – usually about 20,000 consistently correct repetitions? Increased myelin has the potential to increase the speed of information-processing by 3000 times. It can also slow signals so they hit the right synapse at the right time. For the most complex skills the time window for optimal neuron firing is about 4 milliseconds, half the time it takes a bee to flap its wings.
Dr. Douglas Fields Director of the Neurobiology Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health “Signals have to travel at the right speed, arrivea at the right time and myelination is the brain’s way of controlling that speed.” I typed that last sentence while reading from notes. Even as I typed, at a rate of 5 or 6 keystrokes a second, , I was able discern when I’d mistyped -- without looking at either keyboard or the text unscrolling on my laptop monitor -- just by the feel of relative position of my fingers on the keyboard. That’s a skill requiring highly developed perception and coordination, which was developed by touch typing some 1000 hours a year for the last 20 or more years. I.E. 20,000 hours of myelinating the skills of touch typing.
Each time we mindfully practice a freestyle catch, or breath or leg drive, we fire a set of signals and a bit more insulation builds up along that circuit, which converts into an infinitesimal increase in signal speed and accuracy.
Struggle is essential to improving the circuitry. In order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must first fire it sub-optimally. You must do it inefficiently, become aware of your errors and fix them. Mistakes increase your attention. It’s the mishits on my keyboard that I notice, leading me to concentrate more as I type, so I can avoid needing to spend extra time retyping.
Myelin is programmed to respond to actions. But it also responds to intentions. Circuits that fire get insulated. The circuits fire even when you visualize an action. Once a skill circuit is insulated, you can’t unwrap it. That’s why habits are hard to break. (Or as I’ve sometimes referred to it “creating muscle amnesia.”) The only way to change them is to build new habits.
Better skills happen not by trying harder indiscriminately, but by trying harder in very targeted ways.
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  #18  
Old 07-20-2009
madvet madvet is offline
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Default Speed and Drills

I think the myelin theories help to explain why we tend to develop "speed grooves" and why it is hard to "just simply speed it up" because the nerve pathways are not developed at the desired speed. I think the Tempo Trainer is a great way to do this, because it focuses on real time and avoids that "just speed it up" effort which tends to cause tension more than increase speed.

I have been trying to work on this by using the drills at a faster tempo. I got this idea from watching the new Easy Freestyle video. I decided to do this instead of using whole stroke "gears" types of methods. I was able to improve my 1000 meter open swim time from 17:41 a year ago, to 16:01 this week. I did this mainly by increasing my stroke rate from 1.8 seconds to about 1.5. I believe I am close to having the same stroke length.

If I could find my Tempo Trainer it would help me be a lot more accurate about this. I would be interested in others' experiences with trying this. It would be interesting to see what might be the optimal rate for drilling versus training. Say I wanted a 1.3 sec. stroke rate -- what would be the optimal drilling rate for developing that stroke? This is just an example and there might not be a "mathematical formula" to calculate these things. But they are something we could try to use our experience with.

I was impressed that this drills approach seemed to be more effective than my previous attempts at just speeding up my whole-stroke swimming.
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Last edited by madvet : 07-20-2009 at 07:28 PM.
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  #19  
Old 07-21-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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I have not sped up drilling, I think because I have (lately) been trying to progress from drilling to full stroke as quickly as possible. I use the drill only to inform me of a correct feeling. Then I try to hold that feeling in full stroke and play with tempos and stroke counts a lot in full stroke. I definitely have had huge improvements rapidly by playing with tempos. If I could only get to the pool more often, I would be really exited to see my times.
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  #20  
Old 07-21-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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Next installment: Ignition.

Ignition is Coyle's term (I didn't catch if he cites someone else as coining the term) for motivation. He suggests that motivation is an irrational experience. Why would someone put off immediate comfort for the chance at a future success? His answer is that the Hotbeds of talent take advantage of "Primal Cues."

Coyle suggests that the main primal (evolved) cues that lead to motivation are:
Safety - I am not safe in the real world, I can control my practicing world. He noted the long list of world leaders who have lost a parent. This reminded me of Greg Louganis' story that the diving board was the only place in his life he felt in control.
Belonging - I am similar to the one who succeeded, so I belong to that group and must work to make it into that group. This he related to what he called the "breakthrough and bloom" event. Often, one random individual from an area succeeds and 5-10 years later, that is a hotbed. Once one person from there succeeds, many others get ignited with the belief that they can also. Any kind of subtle personal connection works. And, he said, the more blatant it is, the worse it works.
Scarcity - most people don't get to do this, so I am special.

The last thing he said was that all the hotbeds provided, concise, personalized, constant repetition of these primal cues.

I must admit, I have had a much harder time accepting this section than the first. I don't like the idea that motivation is irrational. It suggests that anyone who grew up with their primal needs met will not be ignited. Last year, I took a page out of John Wooden's book and built my own "Pyramid of Success" which now hangs in my classroom. For me the three pilars of motivation are:
1. I believe I can achieve my goal.
2. I fully understand what my goal is.
3. My goal is worth my effort.

I believe my statements are more general. For example, Coyle explains "I believe I can" by belonging to a group in which another individual succeeded. Well, that first person had to develop that belief somewhere else. He talks about understanding the big picture, but as part of learning, not motivation. "Worth my effort" can be for reasons other than primal cues. For example, Swim Atlanta has a huge painting on the wall of their pool that simply reads "It's fun to swim fast."

Part 3 is Master Coaching. I'll post when I finish.
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