10,000 hours – fact or fiction?

It is widely debated how long it takes to make a skill habitual in sport. The most believed theory suggests 10,000 hours of practice before something is world class (a popularised theory most recently by Malcolm Gladwell) but how true is this and how does it work?

Matthew Syed is a former table tennis champion and now popular journalist. In his book ‘Bounce’ he exposes the idea that champions are born to be a myth and instead details how the key to success is  through hard work, the right attitude and the right training.

Syed also explains how memory and inspiration prime our brains for success – something we at Activate Sport work hard to help achieve through inspiring the future stars!

Another well respected book; ‘The Talent Code’ by Daniel Coyle, also challenges the nature argument and in fact goes deeper into the science of how brains are wired and how learning takes place. He reveals why some teaching methods are more effective than others and shows how all of us can achieve our full potential if we set about training our brains in the right way.

The very idea of brain training makes many of us uncomfortable. At Activate Sport we have teamed up with ZingUp who design specific programmes, tailored to the individuals, to help them achieve their potential through a simple set of exercises over 6 months. ZingUp have had incredible results with some Activate Sport volunteers which we will detail in the near future.

There is now a new theory that challenge the 10,000 hour rule. It is based on the idea that ‘massed practice’ is a myth as it only helps the performer to deliver that exact skill or drill. Instead, practice and training should take place over a period of time and involve different challenges. In essence it talks about practice that should be ‘shaped’, ‘interleaved’ and ‘varied’.

This is much like we deliver on our sport programmes. We believe in experiences and differing challenges which are vital to the learner retaining knowledge both consciously and subconsciously. Doing the same thing over and over can be dull for young performers so we aim to mix this up and offer something different, not just focussing on the process but working back from the desired outcome.

The debate continues…