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Werner F. Helsen, Janet L. Starkes and Nicola J. Hodges

Two studies tested the theory of deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993) and contrasted results with the sport commitment model (Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, Simons, & Keeler, 1993a, 1993b). In Part I, international, national, and provincial soccer and field hockey players recalled the amount of time they spent in individual and team practice, sport-related activities, and everyday activities at the start of their career and every 3 years since. In Part II, these activities were rated in terms of their relevance for improving performance, effort and concentration required, and enjoyment. A monotonic relationship between accumulated individual plus team practice and skill level was found. In contrast with Ericsson et al.’s (1993) findings for musicians, relevant activities were also enjoyable, while concentration became a separate dimension from effort. The viability of a generalized theory of expertise is discussed.

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Anique B.H. de Bruin, Remy M.J.P. Rikers and Henk G. Schmidt

Although the importance of high motivation to engage in deliberate practice has been acknowledged, no research has directly tested this hypothesis. Therefore, the present study examined this relation in adolescent elite chess players by means of a questionnaire. In addition, to provide an explanation for dropout among promising chess players, differences in motivation between persistent and dropout chess players were analyzed. Competitiveness and the will to excel proved to be predictors of investments in deliberate practice. Moreover, achievement motivation and chess-specific motivation differed to a certain extent between persisters and dropouts. Our results suggest that motivation to engage in deliberate practice not only contains elements of the will to improve performance, but also of the will to attain exceptional levels of performance.

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Edward K. Coughlan, A. Mark Williams and Paul R. Ford

The accumulation of deliberate practice is thought to be a key factor in the development of expertise. The tenets of deliberate practice are that it is effortful, not immediately rewarding, not inherently enjoyable, and relevant to overall performance improvement ( Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch

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Ronnie Lidor, Gershon Tenenbaum, Gal Ziv and Vladimir Issurin

Deliberate practice (DP), an activity aimed at enhancing an individual’s performance, has been reported to be crucial for achieving a state of expertise in various domains, such as education, music, and sport. In this article, the relationships between DP and the process of athletic performance adaptation are explored by elaborating on the main principle of the theory of training—periodization. We argue that periodization should be considered as a mechanism for ensuring DP, and that the implementation of periodization principles (cycles and phases) in DP activities can facilitate adaptation processes leading to expert performance. We describe the characteristics and features of DP, review a series of studies on DP and athletic performance (N = 21), discuss the importance of periodization in sport training, and outline a number of benefits of periodization. A model that emphasizes the link between periodization and DP activities in each phase of sport development is proposed, and a number of research approaches to address periodization are discussed.

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G. Cornelis van Kooten

The purpose in this paper is to examine the effectiveness/usefulness of the long-term athlete development (LTAD) model, particularly in the coaching of judo. The major influences on the LTAD approach, including deliberate practice, are reviewed along with recent evidence that leads to questions about the usefulness of the LTAD model. While Judo Canada has attempted to implement this model in its program to train coaches, there remains a great deal of incongruity between the LTAD approach and the pedagogy that often characterizes judo.

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David I. Anderson and Anthony M. Mayo

This paper examines the costs and benefits of early specialization in sport from a skill acquisition perspective. The focus is on whether early specialization in a single sport is the best way to facilitate the acquisition of skill in that sport. The paper is organized relative to the two major conceptual frameworks that have motivated much of the discussion about early specialization in sport: the theory of deliberate practice and the Developmental Model of Sport Participation. Our analysis reveals that while early specialization in sport is one way to reach elite status, it is not the only way. Considerable evidence shows that many elite athletes specialized in their sport late, following diversified experiences with other sports. These findings raise a number of exciting questions about the long-term development of skill in sport.

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Pete Van Mullem and Sean Dahlin

The pursuit of mastery in coaching is an ongoing journey, requiring a commitment to life-long learning (Gallimore, Gilbert, & Nater, 2014). The purpose of this paper is to share the insight of five professionals (i.e., educator, sport ethicist, administrator, sport researcher, and a coach), participating in a panel session at the 2016 U.S. National Coaching Conference, on pursuing mastery as a coach. The term mastery is often associated with expertise. To be considered an expert, a coach must also be effective (Côté & Gilbert, 2009). Coaches that have achieved this level of effectiveness are often referred to as master teachers. Across the session the views of the panel members emphasized the pursuit of mastery as an ongoing journey of continuous learning. Insight from the panelists is compared with literature in coaching science and recommendations are provided for coaches and coaching educators on how to deliberately pursue mastery as a coach.

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Simon A. Worsnop

The purpose of this article is to examine the application of talent development principles to the coaching of rugby. It will consider the generic and sport specific problems of talent identification and selection, particularly the danger of early selection that poses the dual problems of early disengagement on the one hand and over specialization on the other. The paper will touch upon the various proposed models of athlete development and discuss the ways in which a national governing body of sport can influence player development along the age continuum. The role of the individual coach in developing young players and the importance of coach development and education will also be considered. Understanding the needs of players at different times in their development, and having a clear knowledge of how to improve performance in an efficient, time restrained but also enjoyable manner is a key skill for any coach. However, this skill requires time to grow and many coach education systems do not provide the ongoing support mechanisms that will enable a coach to grow and flourish, resulting in a less than optimal coaching environment.

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K. Anders Ericsson

Traditional theories of aging claim that basic processing speed and memory capacities show inevitable decline with increasing age. Recent research, however, has shown that older experts in some domains are able to maintain their superior performance into old age. but even they display the typical age-related decline in performance on psychometric tests of fluid intelligence. The study of expert performance shows that adults retain the capacity to acquire and maintain performance with the appropriate type of training and practice, even speeded actions and many physiological adaptations. In fact, experts’ performance keeps improving for several decades into adulthood and typically reaches its peak between 30 and 50 years of age. The experts can then maintain their attained performance level into old age by regular deliberate practice. Much of the observed decline in older adults’ performance can be attributed to age-related reductions in engagement in domain-related activities—in particular, regular deliberate practice.

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Carlos E.B. Gonçalves, Luís M.L. Rama and António B. Figueiredo

The theory of deliberate practice postulates that experts are always made, not born. This theory translated to the youth-sport domain means that if athletes want to be high-level performers, they need to deliberately engage in practice during the specialization years, spending time wisely and always focusing on tasks that challenge current performance. Sport organizations in several countries around the world created specialized training centers where selected young talents practice under the supervision of experienced coaches in order to become professional athletes and integrate onto youth national teams. Early specialization and accurate observation by expert coaches or scouts remain the only tools to find a potential excellent athlete among a great number of participants. In the current study, the authors present 2 of the problems raised by talent search and the risks of such a search. Growth and maturation are important concepts to better understand the identification, selection, and development processes of young athletes. However, the literature suggests that sport-promoting strategies are being maintained despite the increased demands in the anthropometric characteristics of professional players and demands of actual professional soccer competitions. On the other hand, identifying biological variables that can predict performance is almost impossible.