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Deliberate Practice
February 20th, 2013

We have all heard of the idyllic notion of’ Practice makes perfect’, right? But have we really given it much thought? Of course we are never going to actually be ‘perfect’, but it is in the pursuit of this ideal that makes us increase our number of practices and in turn improve to some degree.  Agree? Tyler Bradstreet (2013) argues that simply showing up and practicing, no matter the increasing volume of practices is not enough, but rather we need to be conducting ‘deliberate’ practices in order to improve.

Deliberate practice is, highly structured, organized, with increased effort levels and 

directed toward extrinsic goals and rewards.

Specific vs. Variable Practice Composition

Specific practice refers to a practice where one performs a single variation of a motor skill.

An example of specific practice:

A rugby player wants to work on his place kicking. So he places his kicking tee on the 22 meter line, right in front of the poles, and completes 50 kicks.

Variable practice refers to a practice where one performs many variations of a motor 


An example of variable practice:

A rugby player wants to work on his place kicking. So he places his kicking tee in 10 different spots, from one touchline to the other, along the 22 meter line, and completes 50 kicks in total.

Research has consistently shown that when variable practice and specific practice are compared, participants who are in the variable practice group perform better on transfer and retention tests. Therefore variable practicing is far more beneficial in replicating and preparing athletes for a match situation. Are you involving enough variable practice into your training routine?

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