Tag Archives: K. Anders Ericsson

Finding The Meaning Of The Sports Gene – An Interview With David Epstein

via Axon Sports

If you watch this video of a young Lionel Messi, who was probably still working towards his 10,000 hours of structured practice total at the time, you can’t help but wonder what secret ingredient he has in his genes.  He clearly has something else, something that was already there at age 5 and something that the other kids didn’t have. David Epstein, former senior writer at Sports Illustrated, has been on a search for that extra something.  In his new book, The Sports Gene, Epstein launched himself directly into the nature vs. nurture, genes vs. practice and natural vs. self-made debates about athletic greatness. I recently had a chance to chat with David …

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10,000 Hours Of Practice May Not Be Enough

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The 10,000 hour theory has become the American dream for developing athletes. Just work hard enough and your gold medal, Hall of Fame, championship ambitions can come true. It is achievable, measurable and finite.  Many athletes never quite cross the 10,000 hour finish line, and have used the scapegoat reason, “I just didn’t have enough time to commit to the sport.” However, recent research suggests that while 10,000 hours of deliberate practice may be necessary to achieve world-class status, it may not be the only ingredient to success. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, a research paper by Florida State professor K. Anders Ericsson, The Role of Deliberate Practice in the …

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Learning To Be The Next Eric Clapton Or Tiger Woods

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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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The Growth Of Rory McIlroy’s Brain

via Axon Sports

At the young age of 22, Rory McIlroy is one of the top players on the PGA tour, while mere mortal golfers wish they could play half as well as the young Irishman. Well, chances are Rory’s brain actually has more gray matter than the average weekend duffer. Researchers at the University of Zurich have found that expert golfers have a higher volume of the gray-colored, closely packed neuron cell bodies that are known to be involved with muscle control. The good news is that, like Rory, golfers who start young and commit to years of practice can also grow their brains while their handicaps shrink. Executing a good golf swing …

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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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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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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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