Gladwell, eat my shorts
November 11, 2015 2:04 PM   Subscribe

To see how long it would take to attain an arbitrary skill, Mike Boyd chose skateboarding and set the milestone at a kick flip. It took him five hours and forty-seven minutes. With help from his cat. [SLYT]
posted by Stark (23 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was great. Well done, Mike!

If there's one thing all skaters share, it's the ability to take a hit and get back up again.
posted by gwint at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2015


When I turned 1.141553 years old, I wept. I had been a live human being for 10,000 hours, and mastered the human experience. There were no worlds left to conquer. Or maybe I was hungry or saw a scary tree branch.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:44 PM on November 11, 2015 [29 favorites]


I have read some opinions about this video that mention how it's not a real kick flip because the skate is not moving but honestly I think that makes it even better. I can't remember the last time I dedicated any amount of time to learn something just for fun.
posted by Memo at 2:52 PM on November 11, 2015


I found it really endearing that the woman in the video watched almost the entire process (based on her offscreen exclamations) and also was so delighted when he got hit in the nuts she couldn't stop herself from running into frame to simultaneously console and mock him.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:54 PM on November 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


9m 25s to ollie? Not bad, I think. I'd expect I'd need the full 5 hours to just ollie.

Speaking of Tony Hawk Pro Skater, here's a bonus video from THPS3 where they had a kickflip contest among some of the non-skating people at the video game company that made it.
posted by mhum at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yorvit, the cat who likes skateboarding videos, and I just watched it. I was more impressed than Yorvit was, I think. He's hard to impress.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:59 PM on November 11, 2015


Was the cat's name Vinny? Video was great. Cat was great.
posted by rachaelfaith at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


My challenge (never mastered) was always staying on the damned thing for more than 3 feet of travel, but I guess that's harder to document with a stationary camera.
posted by phearlez at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know if performing a trick once qualifies as learning how to do it, much less mastering it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 4:10 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah he learned that waaaay faster than me. It took me many nights in the Target parking lot just to learn to ollie.
posted by doteatop at 4:21 PM on November 11, 2015


Yeah, the cat's attitude.

Previously on MF: skateboarding ground tricks @ 1000 fps. (SLYT). Surprisingly graceful.
posted by jjj606 at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, I'm certainly not going to defend Gladwell here, but the 10,000 hour rule, in this setting, would be "compete at some amateur level of skateboard freestyle event". Not "Learn a single trick".

Compare knowing a single song on the piano, and being able to play keyboards competently. There is your 9,995 hours.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:17 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


And I don't think even Gladwell would call it a hard limit. It's more of a rule of thumb.

I ride a bike kind of seriously and if it takes 10,000 hours to master it then I am fucked, because I ride about 500 hours/year. I don't really know anyone aside from maybe pros who ride 1000 hours a year and they sure haven't been doing it for 10 years, so...
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:32 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love this, because I remember spending hours in my garage as a 12 year-old practicing shitty, stand-still kickflips and the pure sense of joy and accomplishment when you finally start sticking them.

I still skate, though not nearly as recklessly as I did as a teenager, but I will still throw a kickflip while rolling around at the park every once in a while. There is nothing more satisfying than popping a perfect, leveled-out kickflip and catching it at it's peak, then stomping it down and landing it clean over the bolts. For a split second you're 12 again in your parents garage, and goddamnit you did something well, and life is good.

Also: If anyone wants to see beautiful flip tricks done by pros in rapid succession - it is like ASMR-levels gratifying to me - I highly recommend watching the Battle of the Berrics S.K.A.T.E tournaments (for those who don't know, playing s.k.a.t.e is like playing h.o.r.s.e in basketball except going trick for trick instead of shot for shot, flat-ground, straight up).
posted by windbox at 7:04 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow windbox, that is really impressive!
posted by joedan at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2015


If only he knew that kick flips are much easier to land when you're moving. It's also the reason why he was destroying his shins.
posted by photoslob at 8:44 PM on November 11, 2015


I ride a bike kind of seriously and if it takes 10,000 hours to master it then I am fucked, because I ride about 500 hours/year. I don't really know anyone aside from maybe pros who ride 1000 hours a year and they sure haven't been doing it for 10 years, so...

Well, let's see.
About 75 days of summer vacation a year...
12 hours between breakfast and "too dark to see where you're going"*.
Conservatively about 6 of those hours riding around the neighborhood.
10 years between first grade and learning how to drive at 16...

That's what, 4500 hours?
Add in another 1000 for the next 30 years.
So that puts me somewhere around halfway to a career as a professional BMX rider!

* Bike lights? We didn't have that kind of fancy technology in the 80s.
Next thing you'll be suggesting helmets!

posted by madajb at 9:12 PM on November 11, 2015


Malcolm Gladwell did not develop the 10,000 hours rule of thumb, that was Anders Ericsson. And Ericsson certainly wasn't talking about the amount of time required to learn one skill (like a kick flip). Here's a quote.

"Our research shows that even the most gifted performers need a minimum of ten years (or 10,000 hours) of intense training before they win international competitions."

You can read about it at the link below; it's interesting because the research does not say it's just as simple as putting in the hours:

https://hbr.org/2007/07/the-making-of-an-expert
posted by surenoproblem at 9:21 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


...and then, as usual, Gladwell took someone's perfectly cromulent research and popularized it as a reductive, groundless, universal generalization, selling millions of books in the process. Fuck a Gladwell.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:14 AM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase a saying from aviation, do you have 10,000 hours of experience or do you have one hour of experience, over and over again?
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:37 AM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


In high school, I stood on a skateboard from time to time. Never did much more than that. Always have regretted not being a skater. Midwest suburbia probably isn't the best place to start, though.
posted by rebent at 5:46 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The 10,000 hours thing is just a stepping off point for a fun video. He's not claiming to have mastered skateboarding.

The best bit is at 5:28 though, where he does that thing all cat owners eventually find themselves doing, reasoning with the cat about its personal safety.
posted by howfar at 6:38 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Motherfucker.

It took me multiple days of practicing like two or three hours a day just to get a 2" ollie. After many more days, I still topped out at 3", and even then I managed to stick one ollie in 20 or 30 attempts. And then my skateboard got stolen. And he got his first ollie in less than 10 minutes?

Motherfucker.

ultraviolet catastrophe: "I don't know if performing a trick once qualifies as learning how to do it, much less mastering it."

Well, hey, you're in luck! He never claims to have "mastered" it, he says he wanted to see how long it would take to learn a particular skill. And you're in double-luck, because he did it more than one time!

clvrmnky: "OK, I'm certainly not going to defend Gladwell here, but the 10,000 hour rule, in this setting, would be "compete at some amateur level of skateboard freestyle event". Not "Learn a single trick"."

Hey, you're in luck, too! He specifically says "What can you achieve in much less time, though?" So he agrees with you, and explicitly points out that he's not mastering anything, nor spending 10,000 hours, but doing something else in much less time.

So many lucky people.
posted by Bugbread at 7:21 AM on November 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


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