Deliberate Practice: An Overview

West Coast Swing Online Grab Bag

Everyone knows that you need to practice in order to get better at an activity. What is less well known is what makes practice effective. Fortunately, research is beginning to answer that question.

The short answer is that there is a specific kind of practice that results in tremendous improvement. “Deliberate practice,” as it is called in the literature, is described by one of the experts of practice research, Geoff Colvin, as,

activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun (Talent Is Overrated).

In future posts, we will explore each of these elements in detail, as well as how to integrate these principles into your own practice sessions. As we work through the elements of deliberate practice, think about how well your practice time makes use of these ideas, and what areas are ripe for improvement.

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