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One of the points of the article is that there is good scientific evidence for the way people react to being praised in one way or another: have you watched the utube video of the kids making up patterns with play bricks?

One must think carefully about why so many players that initially shine do not progress through to senior level. As an example ,off the top of my head, I do not think anyone in the top junior age group (J16/J17/J18) won the Primary residential. I would not suggest that having the wrong mindset is the sole explanation and even necessarily the major one, but it is a factor.

My feeling is that people are indeed born or develop with different strengths and weaknesses and some do appear more able to pickup and understand chess than others. However their talent is not so much their ability to play chess immediately rather their ability to learn to play. And indeed most studies do show a strong correlation between the amount of work the young star has done and the level achieved.

If in later years they are given the strong message that they were somehow born with that ability to play, it denies the fact that they achieved that ability through hard work: which I think is probably the greater talent. This is not to suggest that all children can obtain the same levels by doing the same amount of work: there is no doubt in my mind that some are born with or develop an aptitude for for an activity. The question is, assuming that all the players in a group have an aptitude why do some progress while others do not?

You are quite correct that kids need to have self-belief: they need to know that if they put in the effort the results will follow.

I find amusing that you go on about the negative affects of labeling yet deny the possibility that labeling someone as naturally talented may have a negative impact!

In reality there is no claim that anyone's mindset is 100% fixed or 100% growth, rather it will be a complex mix of the two. Equally one can think of situations where a fixed mindset may well benefit you however one must remember it is not about how one becomes the top 12 year old rather its how all those 12 years progress and develop into successful 22 year olds.

You seem to have it in for coaches but can you name any number of top performers that managed to get to the top, and stay there, without one? Even Mozart had his father!
I fear one of you has a 'fixed' mindset and one a 'growth'. You may never agree on this subject. =)

Currently reading 'Bounce' by Matthew Syed who discusses in detail the above concept and I think it is an essential read for any coaches or parents out there.
Not sure if I agree that you can have a fixed and growth mindset at the same time, although with some subtle alterations to the wording of feedback it is possible to move from 'fixed' to 'growth'. This can be acheived by praising the work ethic of a junior who is doing well as opposed to just heaping praise on their apparent talent.
What is clear is that the motivation must come from within and Syed uses the Polgar sisters as an example of this. For all that their father initiated their meteoric rise to the top in chess, alledgedly decided upon before they were born, Syed was taken by the sisters relentless hunger to learn the game and constantly improve.
So with the motivation coming from within and the coach focusing on the trainee's work ethic all that is required to reach the top of any discipline is around 10,000 hours of constructive practice?!

Now.. where do I find a spare 10,000 hours?
Hi Woody
I believe that one can have a fixed mindset on parts of chess - perhaps be that phases of the game or perhaps particular types of openings. We are human - we are allowed to have contradictory thought processes at the same time! One of the points of the talk was to emphasis the importance of people taking ownership and recognizing the signs of a fixed mindset so that they can work on it.

I think you are so right about motivation - it is another key element in being talented. You can whip your kids only so far, but then you need to step back let them manage their future. As always knowing exactly when to do that is easier said than done!

I think the wonder of youth is that if motivated they can become good at almost anything.

I do totally agree with Angus that if labels are applied for the sole purpose of branding an individual then they are a bad thing but if applied to help bring insight and an understanding of how to improve then its a useful tool. Perhaps a better term would be 'identified' rather than labeled.
Thanks for that.
The mind is a delicate thing indeed. That is why it is so important to protect it.
I would say that it is more important to develop an understanding of chess than to study chess from a purely theoretical viewpoint. I have heard and read stories of coaches preparing their charges by getting them to learn opening lines by memory. I do not agree with this at the start. I think that it is much better to develop this after they have developed a proper understanding.

I noticed at the recent European Championships for the blind that I lacked proper preparation particularly against the top players in the event. Everyone else I felt at least equal with on understanding of chess
Fascinating discussion ... which is essentially (and coincidentally) also at the very heart of my just published Everyman book: Giants of Innovation (on Steinitz, Lasker, Botvinnik, Korchnoi and Ivanchuk). For a brief summary of the key attributes that it takes to be a great innovator, see at the end of my book p.279 ... the rest of the book explores the issues. Success is not "just" down to hard work on and off the board, of course, but that's an absolutely essential basis.

As the book's intro stresses, innovation in all its many guises (not just new moves, of course, but much more than that) lies at the very heart of success in chess. Here's the first "review" I've noticed ... not in depth but gives a flavour. <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... /chess.pdf</a><!-- m -->. Further info and extracts from the book can be found at the Everyman Chess web-site and Amazon.
Using "mindset" as a factor in selection for a swim squad is very subjective and is open to bias. Basing it on tangible results, such as a personal best times, cuts out this element of bias.

Naturally, as children grow up their interests will change whether it be swimming, chess or any other activity.

I used to swim competitively until the age of 14/15 at which point I decided training 4 nights a week, and 2 mornings before school, was not for me. I had been swimming from about the age of eight.

The new selection process you refer to Mike, I suspect it will make little difference to drop out rates amongst junior swimmers.

Also, in my opinion, the main goal should be to promote swimming for everyone, not just an elite or 'the best'. This point applies to all other activities as well.

As for positive reinforcement, I would imagine most people would agree that this can only but help encourage, promote and enhance performance. If you put your mind to something with a positive attitude, despite the difficulty of the task in hand, there is a far greater chance you will suceed compared to going in with a 'bad' attitude.
Quote:Using "mindset" as a factor in selection for a swim squad is very subjective and is open to bias. Basing it on tangible results, such as a personal best times, cuts out this element of bias.

I would agree that any selection process involving human judgement is potentially subjective and subject to bias etc and we have already experienced a little of that :-) but to be fair PB times are also highly biased 50% of the top 20 PBs in one age group were from swimmers in the first three months of the year and similarly early or late maturity introduces another bias.

To be fair to the new policy in the swimming PBs will still be a major factor in selection but they are recognising that there is something else that those swimmers need to become long term competitive swimmers. Also it is something that will become part of the training regime, so that the growth mindset will be encouraged. And not just in the swimmers, but in the coaches and administrators.

Quote:Naturally, as children grow up their interests will change
Agreed - there are many factors why people give anything up: in chess the lack of support within secondary schools is a huge factor that having the right mindset will not fix. I think we were lucky as my son was a late starter at 11 and the 'fun' of 8 sessions a week has not worn off yet - though I have seen many who started at 8 or 9 droping out like yourself.

Quote:the main goal should be to promote swimming for everyone
Yes and no - swimscotland does aim I believe to promote swimming for all but the job of the performance director is to help develop the infrastructure to support and help the good swimmers that want to progress to become elite.
For every Polgars and Williams out there there are others that have tried the so called 'growth' mindset and have failed. We never hear about them! They didn't have the secret ingredient which is 'talent'

Whilst teaching it was obvious almost within 2 minutes that in a class of 30 there were varying degrees of ability and talent. Some children could learn a new physical/hand eye co-ordination skill easily and quickly whilst others struggle for full periods and longer. The differential in ability and natural talent was evident.
Trying to say that is unimportant is to me nonsense.

I will continue to praise talent where I see it and wish those who only wish to praise 'work ethic' well. Instead of putting the 2 into false boxes the obvious thing is to join the 2 and find the talented children at any particular sport, praise them and encourage them to work to improve and maximise their potential.
You missed the point.

The growth mindset is not a magic bullet that is a substitute for ability, rather the idea is that it is one component that helps someone make the most of their potential. So having the right mindset, working hard in the right way, and having the right physical attributes etc will allow you to become a better performer and to progress from a talented junior to a talented senior.

The right mindset has been identified as a common factor (and not the only one) amongst those making it to the senior level. Not all 'talented' people make it and not all who drop out do so because they have the wrong mindset but most people who do progress do have mostly the growth mindset.
Natural talent + hard work (the growth mindset) = development. Aren't Angus and Mike not just saying the same (correct) thing except that they switch the first side of that equation round when they put their views across?

Remember that Kasparov repeatedly goes out of his way to stress publicly that hard work is a natural talent ... talent spotters take note, perhaps!?

Tip for aspiring youngsters ... in addition to working on the openings, try to study the complex make-up of the talents shown by truly great players AND the extraordinary make-up of their work ethic ... reflect deeply and try to develop your own strengths in both aspects ...

.... as one of Botvinnik's (scientific) referees put it about his approach (to science), you (Botvinnik) are remarkable free of any "herd" instinct ... Botvinnik impressed this on all of his remarkable pupils (Kasparov et al) in his justly famous chess seminars for elite youngsters ... in which they had to do most of the work and weren't at all spoon-fed.

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