Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Improving on Deliberate Practice

Talking with my friend Ailsa the other day she mentioned how she regularly plays tennis with another friend - Jon. I asked her if she’s a better player, to which she responded that she isn’t but she wins more often. She went on to explain that she thinks Jon is a better player but he’s always trying new techniques and making mistakes which cause him to lose much more than he would if he played a “straight” game.

Ailsa's explanation exposes some important differences between practice, variation and challenge. Practice, on its own, allows people to maintain their of ability and fitness. However, without attempting more taxing challenges, progress is likely to be relatively slow and may even decline. Experimentation, on the other hand, whilst it is likely to develop new skills more quickly, can also give the impression of poor performance.

Hard work, persistence and practice on their own are insufficient then. What is also needed is a willingness (confidence) to take risks, to vary the experience, and to learn from the consequences.


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