At the end of this entry is a link to the original article on deliberate practice that started it all. Since then, it apparently has grown into a distinct field of academic study. Be warned, the article is a rather dense read. Nonetheless, several key points of this article are as follows:
(1) “Talent” is largely irrelevant;
(2) 10 years of “deliberate practice” is what is needed to become an expert performer in any given field (such as golf, violin, piano etc); and
(3) The more accumulated practice time you have at a given activity, the more expert you will be.
For example, Bobby Fischer became a chess grand master at age 16. Many have attributed this to natural in born talent. This article and others have argued that is not the case. Fischer started studying chess at the age of 5 and accumulated hundreds of books on chess strategy (by one account, he had 400 books) by the time he was an early teenager. He also put in prodigious hours of practice and games. No wonder he became chess grandmaster by the age of 16.
The article did a neat job of analyzing the expert levels of violinists and pianists. It found that the more accumulated deliberate practice one put in, the more expertise one gained.
It all comes down to practice, practice, practice. For a more precise definition of deliberate practice, you need to read the article.
The last interesting point that I picked up from the article is that the experts in their field benefited far more from one on one instruction/tutoring than the classic classroom instructional method. This should not be surprising. With personal instruction, you get much more refined lessons and attention to detail to what you are doing. The classroom instructional method is more suited to the one size fits all methodology.
For me, as this relates to martial arts, this was quite interesting. I believe that those top notch martial artists are those who have spent more time perfecting the art than others. It is not necessarily the talent that counts. It’s the hours of practice! As Professor Presas, the founder of Modern Arnis, used to say all the time “You must flactice !!”