Tag Archives: Expertise

January 31, 2013

Learning To Be The Next Eric Clapton Or Tiger Woods

via Dan Peterson

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 …

read more

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 28, 2012

Searching For The Secret To Success In Sports

via Dan Peterson

An athlete’s level of greatness is often measured by the opinions of his or her peers while they’re playing.  Being recognized as one of the best by those who understand what it takes is rare.  The mystery lies in the secret ingredient that separates the great players from the masses. After 17 seasons, Paul Scholes of Manchester United thought he had played in his final tribute game last summer and would become a coach at the club he’s been part of since his teens.  Yet, in a surprise to everyone, he suited up for an FA Cup match earlier this month and is planning to stay on the active roster through …

read more

Tags: , , , , , ,

August 17, 2011

The science behind choking

via Dan Peterson

Free throw shooting in basketball offers one of the best opportunities to look at the effects of pressure on athletic performance.  Most NBA players can stand around in an empty gym and knock down free throw after free throw.  It’s one of those skills that has been so refined by deliberate practice that it’s basically performed on autopilot.  But it’s a different story to put that same player in a pressure-packed situation, in front of a crowd, with the game on the line.  In research conducted by Art Markman at the University of Texas, it appears that NBA players are more likely to choke in critical, late-game situations: The  highest pressure …

read more

Tags: , , , , ,

August 16, 2011

The 10,000 hour rule and expert athletic performance

via Dan Peterson

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 …

read more

Tags: , , , , ,

July 22, 2011

When experts are wrong

via Dan Peterson

In the same way that exceptions teach a lot about rules, the failures of experts can be as instructive about the nature of expertise as their successes. Here is a great segment from BBC Radio with Dan Gardner, the author of Future Babble, a new book about why experts who make predictions turn out to be so wrong so often. The book focuses on the fallibility of certain types of experts: economists, political experts, journalists and intelligence experts. It turns out that the average expert is only about as accurate as random chance, or, in the words of the author, “a dart-throwing chimpanzee”. Even further, it turns out that the fame …

read more

Tags: ,

July 20, 2011

Chess and Perception

via Dan Peterson

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 …

read more

Tags: , ,

July 13, 2011

Common threads in the history of elite performers

via Dan Peterson

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 …

read more

Tags: , , , ,

June 20, 2011

More on soccer decision-making and expertise

via Dan Peterson

Friday’s post focused on decision-making and anticipation in soccer, and specifically on how the quick and precise evaluation and elimination of options sets great soccer players apart from good athletes who don’t see the game quite as well. While research is nice, it’s always valuable to hear corroboration of those ideas from the mouths of players and coaches who know the game on a truly deep level. Some of the best writing on athletic genius and the unique ways that experts see the game can be found in David Winner’s fantastic book, Brilliant Orange: The neurotic genius of Dutch football. Winner conducted in-depth interviews with former Dutch players, as well as …

read more

Tags: , , ,

April 29, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell-moderated panel on building the modern athlete at MIT Sports Analytics Conference

via Dan Peterson

Embedded below is the keynote panel discussion from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT, which just recently wrapped up in Boston and brings together a lot of the people doing the most forward-thinking research in sports. The conference began in 2007, small and basically a total geekfest, but has doubled in size every year since and now gets a fair amount of attention in more mainstream media outlets. (Note: The first 16:30 of the video is full of introductory talking about the conference and is boring, and for some reason the video doesn’t let you jump forward.  But if you start the video and then pause it, it loads up …

read more

Tags: , ,