Deliberate Practice


The concept of deliberate practice has been bantered about quite a bit lately mainly due to Malcolm Galdwell’s book The Outliers. Along with that, Anders Ericsson’s concept of ten years and ten thousand hours to achieve expert status is getting a lot of attention. I think that Ericsson with his concept of ten years and ten thousand hours to achieve expert status is spot on in the arts and in cognitive intellectual fields. I am not sure that it has as much application to sport. There is no doubt that deliberate practice is essential to achieve excellence in any field. I think what is not being discussed is what exactly does deliberate practice consist of? Is it just doing the sport movements or is it formal structured practice? In my opinion it must be mindful practice with a purpose that is personal to the individual. I think at the younger ages most probably before puberty it should be unstructured play, where the youngster gets a feel for gross motor skills and then begins to refine those into finer motor skills well before there is any thought of being sport specific. It is always interesting to watch kids imitate mature performers. They can copy stars movements to a tee. When I was working with the MLS Tampa Bay Mutiny I remember watching the sons of the players, all age seven to nine, playing a little pick-up soccer game during our practice. They were all trying to imitate what their dads were doing. This is where it starts, but then I think we have misinterpreted Ericsson’s work and introduced structured practice too early. We need to allow each youngster to achieve general physical literacy, to learn how to move and play. There is plenty of time for deliberate practice. Concerning deliberate practice, it must be that, it must be planned, it must be individual, it must stress quality, but it must not be robotic, the individual should be able to find his or her own style. If you want to read a good book on this area I would recommend Talent Is Overrated- What Really Separates World-Class performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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