Tag Archives: Deliberate Practice

Learning To Be The Next Eric Clapton Or Tiger Woods

via Axon Sports

Despite being a well-respected cognitive psychology professor at New York University, Gary Marcus had a secret ambition; to shred amazing riffs that would make Eric Clapton envious. The fact that he had been gently told as a child he had no sense of rhythm or tone did not discourage his dream. With a one year sabbatical from NYU available, he turned himself into a lab experiment of how to teach a middle-aged dog new “licks”. At about the same time, Dan McLaughlin was growing restless with his career as a commercial photographer in Portland. To him, life as a professional golfer seemed to be the dream destination if only he could …

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Is Working Memory The Secret Weapon Of Aaron Rodgers?

via Axon Sports

Of course, the ongoing debate in the sports world is if great perceptual awareness and quick decision making are gifts you’re born with or ones you can develop with practice. At the center of the debate for the last 20 years, Florida State psychology professor K. Anders Ericsson has held to a theory that enough deliberate practice, described as a focused activity meant to improve a specific skill, can make up for or even circumvent the lack of general, innate abilities. His research has shown that about 10,000 hours of practice is the minimum required to rise to an expert level of most knowledge domains, including sports.

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Neuroplasticity, Divers and the Athletic Brain

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Our last post here centered on neuroplasticity and the way that training creates real, visible changes in the brains of athletes.  We referenced a study of Chinese professional divers, who showed enlargement in certain brain areas associated with learning and processing movement.  Back in March, Wired magazine did a nice story summarizing the research: In a new study published last month in PLoS ONE, a research team led by Jing Luo from the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences compared the brains of elite divers to those who were not involved in intense physical training or professional sport. To offset the chances that differences found deep within the …

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The 10,000 hour rule and expert athletic performance

via Axon Sports

Some of the oldest and most prominent cliches that athletes are fed on a day-in, day-out basis revolve around practice (e.g. “practice makes perfect”).  Like a lot of cliches, these sayings are boring but turn out to be true. Recently, research surrounding the concept of practice and expertise has begun to be supported by neuroscience.  Best selling books like Malcolm Gladwells’ Outliers and Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code have taken aim at traditional conceptions of talent, arguing that rather than an innate predisposition toward greatness, the limiting factor in expertise and achievement is actually grit, tenacity and the willingness to put in countless hours practicing a skill. Specifically, K Anders Ericcson …

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Chess and Perception

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The Freakonomics blog had a fantastic post a little ways back about chess Grand Master Gary Kasparov that illuminates a lot about expert performance, and just how automatic it becomes after years of practice.  The researchers were Fernand Gobet and Herbert Simon, and they used Kasparov to examine the nature of expertise: Their subject was Gary Kasparov, chess champion of the world for 15 years (1985-2000). As world champion, he often demonstrated his skill by playing a “simul”: games of chess against several masters and grandmasters simultaneously. Kasparov would have to rotate between games. As soon as Kasparov reached a board, his opponent on that board had to make his or …

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Common threads in the history of elite performers

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The relationship between the hard work of thousands of athletes over their early careers and the finished product of elite athletes on a professional field of play is roughly comparable to that of our nationwide system of slaughterhouses and a glossy photo of a steak in something like Gourmet magazine. How do expert, elite athletes become expert and elite? We know generally: hard work, talent, deliberate practice, a certain never-say-die attitude, etc. But what are the more nuanced common threads? Are there more subtle predictors or commonalities lurking beneath the surface? A new research effort, the Pathways to Podiums project, is aiming to capture this more detailed picture of the road …

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Deliberate practice and the unconscious brain

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The subject of deliberate practice has been discussed a lot here recently, and K Anders Ericssson’s “10,000 hour rule” has become a popular cultural touchstone because of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. But an intriguing recent study by neuroscientists at Northwestern suggests that it might be possible to make the same gains with less actual, working practice time, by supplementing that practice with passive observation while the brain’s subconscious systems does the rest of the learning. The researchers had all of the subjects practice a task 360 times per day for six days, which in this case was an auditory discrimination task where the subjects had to determine whether two similar sounds …

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We talkin’ about practice: Allen Iverson and visualization

via Axon Sports

Following up on the last post about the power of visualization and the way that purely mental practice can improve physical skills, a fascinating little story about Allen Iverson that might change the way you think about his approach to the game, and his infamous attitude toward practice.  From Larry Platt’s Only the Strong Survive, about Iverson’s use of visualization techniques that he learned from his high school football coach: Kozlowski was a staunch believer in psychocybernetics. He’d preach the value of visualization long before such mental gymnastics were in vogue. He had Allen read the book Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who maintained that, even after reconstructive nose …

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