Capitalization Rates, Birthdates and more in Gladwell's new book Outliers

Nov. 18, 2008, 1:35 p.m. (ET)

One of the first things that came out of our USOC conference for me was to hear from Dr. K Anders Ericsson that Malcom Gladwell was coming out with a new book. Sure enough, I went online and ordered Outliers, due out in a week. It will go along side his other GREAT reads titled – Tipping Point and Blink. Interestingly, the conference was the first time Dr. Ericsson and Dr. Richard Schmidt had met in person, which I have no doubt will make for some future even better research.

Even more wonderfully, in the last few days without knowing of the conference or talk mention, other coaching leaders began sharing information with me about must read links to this book and research, where Malcom addresses lots of topics that impact coaching and program development. He speaks about the “Relative Age Effect” where in many sports like hockey and soccer, there is a disproportionate number of kids making the top levels, who simply have birthdates in the first half of the year. I love that he considers our sports organizations to create a parallel league starting with cutoff date half a year later than the current one. I do know in volleyball, by using the “start of school year” date cut off, we minimize the impact of birthdates, but I am sure it still exists.

Why does this matter? Because as Gladwell points out, this makes for a poor “Capitalization rate.” He notes that this failure to get all 12 months of kids and their talents involved is “Not a poverty restraint, it is a stupidity restraint…” Showing “An example of where institutions get in the way of the development of human potential” He then goes on to note work by James Flynn who asked, why do Chinese Americans achieve at such a high rate? In short, it was not IQ, it was due to Capitalization rates – because they simply worked harder….Give American kids and Chinese kids a challenging math question and you see most kids give up after 2 min, but the Chinese American kids will keep working 15 or more minutes to solve it.

Effort and Persistence…These are the things we need to reward more on and off the court…Things in the player’s control. So PLEASE go check out these two great links. The first has a video so you can actually hear Gladwell speak. Both contain important ideas that will impact kids sports, and should be understood by all coaches.

Malcolm Gladwell Explains How Long It Takes To Become A Genius Level Expert In Your Field In His New Book Outliers.

 A gift or hard graft? --- We look at outrageously talented and successful people - the Beatles, Mozart, Rockefeller, Bill Gates - and assume there is such a thing as pure genius. Not necessarily, argues Malcolm Gladwell.


The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.

On November 19, 2008 Trish Sokoul wrote

much thanks for the amazon book reviews, but where'z the information for growing girls volleyball?

On November 20, 2008 John Kessel wrote

Trish, the years of ideas on how to grow the game for girls, boys, youth and beach, are on free CD's each USA Volleyball RVA has been given to give away, and many thousands have been handed out. Videos, articles, animated drills, posters to print out - even team pics of the 2008 Olympic AND Paralympic teams are all on the one CD. If you do not have a copy, email me your address and I would be happy to send you one on the topic most important to you. Thanks for asking. John

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