Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed

Journalist, Broadcaster, Bestselling Author and Former International Table Tennis Champion

Matthew is a columnist for The Times and the author of two acclaimed books – Bounce and Black Box Thinking. He is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on the science of high performance offering the latest thinking on growth mindset, and the critical role of marginal gains.

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Matthew Syed is a British journalist, broadcaster and author of ‘Bounce – How Champions are Made’, a book described as “among the most intelligent and thought-provoking books about sport ever written”.

Matthew has won numerous prizes for his writing including Sports Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards and Sports Feature Writer of the Year at the Sports Journalist Association Awards. He is also a three-time Commonwealth table tennis champion and a two-time Olympian.

Matthew is currently a columnist and feature writer for The Times. He writes a Wednesday column on sport as well as penning reviews, opinion and interviews. In addition to writing, Matthew also commentates on sport for the BBC and Eurosport and is a regular contributor to radio and television. His film for the BBC, ‘China and Table Tennis’, won a bronze medal at the Olympic Golden Rings ceremony in Lausanne.

At the heart of Matthew’s presentation is the notion, “science of success”. Just what does it take to be the best? Matthew uncovers the “hidden logic of success” behind the careers of world-beaters from David Beckham and Serena Williams to Mozart and Picasso. Matthew uses these insights to inspire the audience to reflect on their own performance potential and how this relates to their personal and business ambitions and goals. Matthew is also a strong believer that sporting and academic excellence are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, he argues that developing the body and mind provides a powerful synergy.

Matthew was a co-founder and is a trustee of Greenhouse, a charity that empowers youngsters through sport. Greenhouse currently supports more than 10,000 young people on 31 full-time school programmes. He is also a member of the FA’s High Performance Committee alongside Sir Dave Brailsford and Baroness Campbell, and an ambassador for the PiXL educational foundation.

Together with Andrew Flintoff and Robbie Savage, Matthew discusses topical sports talking points in a weekly BBC5 live show called Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy. His latest book, “You Are Awesome”, is aimed at children aged 9-12 years old and on publication immediately topped the best sellers lists.

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Decision Making
Performing under pressure

“The best speech of its kind I have ever heard. It inspired, entertained and informed in equal measure.”

David Richardson, the Atlantic Group


“An outstanding speech that challenged the perspective of coaches and players alike. Our young players have been talking about it ever since.”

Steve Bould, Arsenal FC


“Matthew Syed is an extremely inspirational speaker. We all strive to be the best and Matthew succinctly encapsulated this ethos during his presentation to Vodafone’s Global Heads of Marketing. Our audience departed feeling highly motivated.”

Maria Bellanca, Head of Group Sponsorship PR, Vodafone

Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance

Black Box Thinking is a new approach to high performance, a means of finding an edge in a complex and fast-changing world. It is not just about sport, but has powerful implications for business and politics, as well as for parents and students. In other words, all of us. Drawing on a dizzying array of case studies and real-world examples, together with cutting-edge research on marginal gains, creativity and grit, Matthew Syed tells the inside story of how success really happens - and how we cannot grow unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes.

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The Greatest: What Sport Teaches Us About Achieving Success

How do we become the best that we can be, as individuals, teams and as organisations? Sport, with its innate sense of drama, its competitive edge, its psychological pressures, its sense of morality and its illusive quest for perfection, provides the answers.

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Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice

Two-time Olympian and sports writer and broadcaster Matthew Syed draws on the latest in neuroscience and psychology to uncover the secrets of our top athletes and introduces us to an extraordinary cast of characters, including the East German athlete who became a man, and her husband – and the three Hungarian sisters who are all chess grandmasters. Bounce is crammed with fascinating stories and statistics. Looking at controversial questions such as whether talent is more important than practice, drugs in sport (and life)...

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You Are Awesome: Find Your Confidence and Dare to be Brilliant at (Almost) Anything

I'm no good at sport ... I can't do maths ... I really struggle with exams ... Sound familiar? If you believe you can't do something, the chances are you won't try. But what if you really could get better at maths, or sport or exams? In fact, what if you could excel at anything you put your mind to? You Are Awesome can help you do just that, inspiring and empowering young readers to find the confidence to realise their potential. The first children's book from Times journalist, two-time Olympian and best-selling mindset...

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Just finished the brilliant #rebelideas by @matthewsyed - explains importance of diversity through real life examples. Why collaborative and divergent thinking is powerful. If you want to borrow - ask quick as might start reading it again! #thoughtprovoking

Michael Michalko and the technique of assumption reversal - one technique for generating new perspectives and ideas

In Rebel Ideas


I listen to a lot of podcasts and have heard some great stuff but this one was so good I had to share it. Doesn’t matter what your background, this is a great listen. @simonmundie @matthewsyed #DTMTS #diversity

Excellent column. I spoke about David Beckham at a public event recently, thinking of him as a modern icon, then realised that when he was sent off in 1998, most of the audience hadn’t been born 🤦‍♂️

Was lucky a while back to talk to Eddie Jones away from press conferences (and rehearsed lines) into areas much more personal. On race, parenthood, drive, sledging and much more. Have a read/listen...

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