Deliberate Practice – The Gold Standard of Practice

Deliberate Practice – The Gold Standard of Practice

One thing I know for sure is to improve, get better or unlearn a skill we need to practice. Whether that something be a skill in sport, learning a musical instrument, self-compassion or mindfulness we need to practice. However, what is important to remember, not all practice is equal.

Subsequently, today I wanted to share more about the 3 different types of practice, including deliberate practice – the gold standard of practice.


What is Deliberate Practice?

The term “deliberate practice” was coined by Dr K. Anders Ericsson who focused most on his research on expert performers. According to Ericsson and Lehmann, Deliberate Practice consists of –

“individualised training activities, specifically designed by a coach or teacher to improve specific aspects of an individuals’s performance through repetition and successful refinement.” (p.278-279).

The 3 Types of Practice – Naive, Purposeful and Deliberate Practice

Before I elaborate further on deliberate practise, I wanted to share more about Naive and Purposeful practice. These two types of practice are generally how people practice.

Naive Practice –

This is generally the type of practice most people do. In their book Peak, Ericsson and Paul identify Naive practice as –

“essentially just doing something repeatedly, and expecting that repetition alone will improve one’s performance.” (p. 442). 

Some examples of naive practice include –

  • I just swung the racquet and tried to hit the ball, or
  • I just listened to the musical notes and tried t remember them.

After a certain level, most people do not improve and may try purposeful practice.

Purposeful Practice –

Purposeful practice is a step ahead of and more superior than naive practice. In their book Peak, Ericsson and Paul identify Purposeful Practice as –

“… the term implies. much more purposeful, thoughtful and focused that this sort of naive practice.” (p.451).

Purposeful Practice has the Following Characteristics…
1. Well Defined, Specific Goals –

It is about putting together a range of small steps to reach a longer-term goal. This is an area where SMART goals come in handy. For example –

  • Today I am going to run 10 x 100m sprints in under 20 seconds,
  • On Friday, I will write 3 heartfelt cards/notes to people I am grateful for, or
  • By the  end of each month, my expense tracker up to date and income / expenses are entered.
2. Focused –

In Naive practise, there may be times when you are distracted, however in purposeful practice you are focused as it’s rare to improve without your full attention on the task at hand.

3. Involves Feedback –

When we are learning there are many times that we need and/or require feedback. This feedback can come from yourself (i.e. internally) or from a teacher, mentor, coach or parent (i.e externally). Without feedback it becomes more difficult to figure out what you need to improve upon.

4. Requires Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone –

Yes, going beyond your comfort zone is important for improving your performance and growing beyond what is familiar. Ericsson and Paul identify getting out of you comfort zone as meaning –

“…trying to do something that you couldn’t do before.” (p.523). 

An example of getting out of you comfort zone is to “try differently” not “try harder”.

So they are the four areas of purpose practice if you want to improve something, however this is just the start. The Gold Standard of Practice is called Deliberate Practice.


Deliberate Practice – The Gold Standard of Practice

In Peak, Ericsson and Paul indicate say that deliberate practice is the most effective method of all –

“It is the gold standard, the ideal to which anyone learning a skill should aspire.” (p.1547). 

Deliberate Practice is similar to purposeful practice, however has two differences. They two differences are –

  1. It is in a field that is reasonable developed, and
  2. Requires a teacher who can provide activities to help improve performance.
1. Deliberate Practice is in a Well-Developed Field

A well-developed field is identified as a field where performers have reached a certain level of performance and separates them from other people in the field. For example – musical performance, sports, dance or chess. Specific fields that don’t qualify are ones that have little or no direct competition (i.e. hobbies such as gardening and professions such as electricians, consultants etc.).

 2. Deliberate Practice Requires a Teacher Who Can Provide Practice Activities

Ericsson and Paul indicate –

“…we are drawing a clear distinction between purposeful practice – in which a person tries very hard to push himself or herself to improve – and practice that is both purposeful and informed. In particular, deliberate practice is informed and guided by the best performers’ accomplishments and by an understanding of what these expert performers do to excel.” (p. 1759). 

To summarise the traits of deliberate practice from Ericsson and Paul, deliberate practice –

  1. Develops skills that other people have already figured our how to do and for which effective training techniques have been established,
  2. Take place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond their current abilities,
  3. Involves well-defined specific goals and often involves some aspect of the targeted performance,
  4. Is deliberate and requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions,
  5. Involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback,
  6. Both produces and depends on effective mental representations,
  7. Nearly always involves building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to practice and you can see that not all practice is the same. If you have any questions, please leave them below.


References –

Ericsson, K.A., & Paul, R. (2017). Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Boston, USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Ericsson, A., & Lehmann, A. (1996). Expert and exceptional performance: evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints. Annual review of psychology, 47, 273-305 .

Team Coaching Competencies by the ICF

Team Coaching Competencies by the ICF

Have you seen the new Team Coaching Competencies by the ICF? Recently, I was mentoring a coach for their ICF credential and they hadn’t seen the ICF Team Coaching Competences, so today on the journal I wanted to share them.


What is Team Coaching?

As I am currently credentialed with the ICF, I am going to be referring to team coaching in relation to the ICF Team Coaching Competencies. The ICF defines Team Coaching as –

“partnering in a co-creative and reflective process with a team and its dynamics and relationships in a way that inspires them to maximize their abilities and potential in order to reach their common purpose and shared goals.”

It is important to also note, that team coaching is different from team mentoring and team consulting. Yes there is some overlap between each of these areas, however there is also some key differences. Our focus for this article is team coaching 🙂


What is the Intention Behind the ICF Team Coaching Competencies?

As I see it, the team coaching competencies have been created to support team coach practitioners serve and support their clients. However, as I do not work for the ICF it is important to refer to them and they indicate

“The ICF Team Coaching Competencies support a team coach practitioner in understanding the distinct knowledge, skills, and tasks required for working with teams. At the core of this practice, however, remains the ICF Core Competencies, which provide the foundation for all coaching practice.”


The Similarities and Differences Between the ICF Core Competencies and the ICF Team Coaching Competencies

The main difference between the ICF Core Competencies and the ICF Team Coaching Competencies is the nature of the client. In the ICF Core Competencies, the term “client” mainly refers to an individual. However, with the ICF Team Coaching Competencies, the “client” is a team as a single entity, comprising more than one individuals. Subsequently, the language of the competencies vary as follows –

Competency 1: Demonstrates Ethical Practice

Definition: Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching.

  • Coaches the client team as a single entity,
  • Maintains the distinction between team coaching, team building, team training, team consulting, team mentoring, team facilitation, and other team development modalities,
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skill needed to practice the specific blend of team development modalities that are being offered,
  • Adopts more directive team development modalities only when needed to help the team achieve their goals, and
  • Maintains trust, transparency, and clarity when fulfilling multiple roles related to team coaching.

Competency 2: Embodies a Coaching Mindset

Definition: Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered.

  • Engages in coaching supervision for support, development, and accountability when needed, and
  • Remains objective and aware of team dynamics and patterns.

Competency 3: Establishes and Maintains Agreements

Definition: Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching engagement as well as those for each coaching session.

  • Explains what team coaching is and is not, including how it differs from other team development modalities,
  • Partners with all relevant parties, including the team leader, team members, stakeholders, and any co-coaches to collaboratively create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, processes, plans, development modalities, and goals, and
  • Partners with the team leader to determine how ownership of the coaching process will be shared among the coach, leader, and team.

Competency 4: Cultivates Trust and Safety

Definition: Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust.

  • Creates and maintains a safe space for open and honest team member interaction,
  • Promotes the team viewing itself as a single entity with a common identity,
  • Fosters expression of individual team members’ and the collective team’s feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, hopes, and suggestions,
  • Encourages participation and contribution by all team members,
  • Partners with the team to develop, maintain, and reflect on team rules and norms,
  • Promotes effective communication within the team, and
  • Partners with the team to identify and resolve internal conflict.

Competency 5: Maintains Presence

Definition: Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident.

  • Uses one’s full range of sensory and perceptual abilities to focus on what is important to the coaching process,
  • Uses a co-coach when agreed to by the team and sponsors and when doing so will allow the team coach to be more present in the team coaching session,
  • Encourages team members to pause and reflect how they are interacting in team coaching sessions, and
  • Moves in and out of the team dialogue as appropriate.

Competency 6: Listens Actively

Definition: Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client systems and to support client self-expression.

  • Notices how the perspectives shared by each team member relate to other team members’ views and the team dialogue,
  • Notices how each team member impacts the collective team energy, engagement, and focus,
  • Notices verbal and non-verbal communication patterns among team members to identify potential alliances, conflicts, and growth opportunities,
  • Models confident, effective communication and collaboration when working with a co-coach or other experts, and
  • Encourages the team to own the dialogue.


Competency 7: Evokes Awareness

Definition: Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy.

  • Challenges the team’s assumptions, behaviours, and meaning-making processes to enhance their collective awareness or insight, and
  • Uses questions and other techniques to foster team development and facilitate the team’s ownership of their collective dialogue.


Competency 8: Facilitates Client Growth

Definition: Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.

  • Encourages dialogue and reflection to help the team identify their goals and the steps to achieve those goals.


Over to You…

I hope that has given you some insight in to the ICF Team Coaching Competencies. If you would like to read more about them, please go to the ICF website here or if you are interested in ICF Mentoring, please contact me here. Also – any questions, please ask them below 🙂

Thoreau Quote on Living Deliberately

Thoreau Quote on Living Deliberately

Like many people, I am a big fan of Henry David Thoreau. One of the quotes that really resonates with me is this one –
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards living deliberately and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport

Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport

We all experience stress in our daily lives and athletes are no different. How we experience that stress depends on how we choose to think about the stress, feel the stress and respond to the stress.

“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Eustress vs Distress

Stress is not always “bad” thing. It is subjective, so something that is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else. Stress can motivate us to change habits and move us closer to our chosen dreams, and aspirations. If we felt no stress, we would not be compelled to act in ways that bring about conscious and meaningful change.

There are a few different types of stress we can experience, however essentially they fall in to two different categories – eustress and distress.  What are some of the differences between eustress and distress?

Glad you asked have a look at the graphic below…


Some Possible Examples of Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport for Athletes

As we all manage stress differently, it is hard to categorise stress objectively. However, following is a table that identifies a list of stressors for athletes within elite sport that have been divided in to example of eustress and distress for athletes.

Are there any other possible example of eustress or distress for athletes in sport you would add? If so, what are they? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.


Questions for Reflection –

Following are a couple of questions for reflection on stress.

  • How do you typically respond to stressful events in your life?
  • Do you allow yourself to sit with stress and use the stressful energy constructively? or Do you feel overwhelmed by stress and turn towards a state of panic or physical/emotional withdrawal?


Over to You…

Remember, change is a constant part of life and from every experience we can practice new ways of responding to stress instead of reacting.

Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?


What Are the Four Stages of Athletic Development?

What Are the Four Stages of Athletic Development?

As a past athlete, I have been passionate about this space for many years. I have travelled this adventure and have intimate understanding of the challenges an elite athlete faces when they stop their career. Yes, that time when people are still talking about your career, however you have limited or no income, unsure of what is next and are not sure of your other skills as you have put your heart and soul in to your sport.

That is why I am passionate about this space and am ready to start sharing more about it, in the hope I can help other people who are on that trajectory. Following are the four stages of athletic development.


The Four Stages of Athletic Development

The four stages of athletic development are shown in the following diagram –

As you can see by the diagram, it indicates the stages are linear, however the age that each person goes through the stages are varied. Following is a brief explanation of the four stages –

1. Initiation Stage –

This stage starts when the child commences their sport and goes until approximately 12 or 13 years of age. During this stage the children are involved in fun, playful sport and movement activities across a variety of sports. Peers, siblings and coaches support their interest and involvement in the sport.

2. Development Stage –

The athlete is in this stage from about 13-19 years of age. During this stage they narrow their focus and to 1 or 2 sports. They also start to set sport-specific goals and practise in structured ways. The support network consists of family, peers and coaches.

3. Mastery Stage

In the mastery stage, the athlete becomes an expert in their sport. The athlete is very focused in this stage and feels responsible for this performance in both practise and competition. The support system in this stage are the coaches, families and other advisors. This stage can be divided in to three sub-stages – amateur senior/elite sport, professional sport involvement and maintenance of sport involvement/achievements. The stage goes from about 19 until approximately 28, when the athlete starts to think of transitioning in to the next stage – discontinuation.

4. Discontinuation Stage –

During this stage, the athlete stops competing at the level of competition they had. They may continue the sport for recreational purposes, however transition in to a career beyond sport.


Over to You…

I hope this has given you some insight in to the four stages of athletic development. Which stage are you in now? If you have any questions, please write them below.

Ready to reconnect with your heart and start living a more connected and whole-hearted life? Then click here to receive the toolkit 🙂


Reference –

Stambulova, N., & Wylleman,P. (2014). Athletes’ career development and transitions, In Routledge Companion to Sport and Exercise Psychology: Global perspectives and fundamental concepts. Routledge, London. S. 605-620.

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