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 .

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?

Why Would An Athlete Work With a Life Coach?

Why Would An Athlete Work With a Life Coach?

There are many reasons why an athlete would work with a life coach. Subsequently, in this post I wanted to share you you some of those reasons. However, before I share why an athlete would work with a life coach, let’s make sure we are on the same page about coaching.


What is Coaching?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) refers to coaching as –

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Another definition of coaching from Anthony Grant includes –

“A collaborative, solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of performance, life experience, self-directed learning and the personal growth of people from normal (non-clinical) populations.” 

Coaching recognises the client as the expert in their own world (personal and professional) and knows every person is creative, resourceful, and whole.

Basically the coaching process is about identifying where you are now, where you would like to be and then close that gap. The coach does this through –

  • discovering, clarifying, and aligning with where the client wants to be,
  • encouraging self-discovery and trust within themselves,
  • eliciting client-generated solutions and strategies,
  • keeping the client accountable and ensuring they are taking responsibility for themselves, and
  • providing support to the client.


Coaching is not –

  • a quick-fix, one size fits all approach for your current challenges (as we are all unique),
  • therapy or counseling (please seek a licensed medical professional if this is what you need),
  • about giving you advice (you are the expert in your own life),
  • financial advising or estate planning (again please seek a licensed practitioner if this is what you require).

You can see more about what life coaching is and is not in the following video –

What is Life Coaching?

Basically, Life Coaching is coaching for your life. For me personally, my life makes up 12 areas. As you can see by the image below, career is one of the twelve.


Why Would An Athlete Work With a Life Coach?

There are many reasons why an athlete would work with a life coach. Some of those reasons include –

  • improving communication skills,
  • clarifying, and aligning with where the athlete wants to be and developing accountability, plans and strategies to align with them,
  • expanding professional career opportunities (yes being an athlete doesn’t last forever),
  • increasing your level of genuine self-confidence – both inside and outside of their profession,
  • optimising your performance (i.e. helping you “be in flow” with your sport and life),
  • increasing your health and wellbeing and ways to manage stress (i.e. self-management strategies and mindfulness),
  • increasing the habit of self-care,
  • managing the transition process of life after sport, and
  • improving harmony and balance within your sport and life.


Over to You…

I hope this post has give you some insight in to why an athlete would work with a life coach. If you would like to find out more about life coaching, click here. Ready to reconnect with your heart and start living a more connected and whole-hearted life, click here to receive the toolkit 🙂


Reference –

Grant, A. M. (2001). Towards a psychology of coaching: The impact of coaching on metacognition, mental health and goal attainment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.


Learning from Making Mistakes

Learning from Making Mistakes

How many times do we stop trying or learning something for fear of failure?

I know I certainly have. I had a lot of fear and vulnerability attached to making mistakes and failure. Subsequently, this would stop me from trying new things. I also thought that if I did everything people expected of me, life would be perfect (that didn’t happen either 🙂 ). I am now choosing a different adventure of life and am getting to know my true self.

However, is making mistakes really failing or is it more about the way we interpret and experience our mistakes and so-called failure? What are these really perceptions costing us? Albert Einstein said it so well ~ “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” 


The MISTAKE Acronym by John Maxwell

A little while back, I came across an acronym on mistakes while I was reading a book on approval addiction (yes another little adventure of mine). The MISTAKE acronym struck a chord with me. Subsequently, today I wanted to share it.

John Maxwell created the acronym “MISTAKES” and it gives a different perspective on the way we look and interpret the mistakes we make. The MISTAKE acronym is –

  • Messages that give us feedback about life.
  • Interruptions that should cause us to reflect and think.
  • Signposts that direct us to the right path.
  • Tests that push us toward greater maturity.
  • Awakenings that keep us in the game mentally.
  • Keys that we can use to unlock the next door of opportunity.
  • Explorations that let us journey where we’ve never been before.
  • Statements about our development and progress.

I know it is not always easy to make mistakes as they are often uncomfortable. However, I wonder how different our lives would be if we reframed how we interpreted our mistakes?

What if we had the courage to make mistakes each day (without doing harm to another person or the environment) and gave ourselves a mistake quota, so we could make as many mistakes in a day as we can? Would that allow us to have grow in to the people we want to be?

As you continue on your adventure, I encourage you to pack your self-compassion in your toolkit. as George Bernard Shaw said ~ “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”


Reflection Questions –

Remember, it is very rare to get something right the first time – that is why it is called practice and we can learn from our mistakes! And if you are not convinced about that – this video might help you 🙂

Over to You…

If you are ready to take yourself on the journey of getting to know yourself (your true Self) so you can continue to share your gifts, why not join the Toolkit? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.

Reference –

Maxwell, J. (2000). Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for SuccessNashville, USA: Thomas Nelson.

9 Ways An Athlete Can Benefit from Life Coaching

9 Ways An Athlete Can Benefit from Life Coaching

One of the reasons why I like life coaching so much is because it helps clients discover their own answers and treats them as the experts in their own lives (which I believe everyone is). It is a very client-centred and solution-focused approach. A very brief example of this is shown in the following diagram –

Today, I wanted to share with you specific ways an athlete can benefit from life coaching.


9 Ways An Athlete Can Benefit from Life Coaching

There are many benefits an athlete can receive from working with a life coach. Following are nine popular benefits that I have heard from the athletes I work with.

1. Clarify and Align to What You Truly Want in Life

When was the last time you sat down and truly identified what you want and looked at your life outside of sport? Yes, your relationships, your dreams, your other skills and talents outside of sport.

“Fear regret more than failure.” ~ Taryn Rose


2. Increase Your Genuine Level of Self-Confidence

What would you do today if you had genuine self-confidence in your life (not just your sport)? Or maybe you would also do things differently in your sport? A life coach can support you to increase your genuine level of self-confidence.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie


3. Expand Your Professional Career Opportunities

Sport doesn’t last forever, it has a lifespan. Is it time to start thinking about expanding your professional career opportunities outside of sport?

“Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.” ~ Jim Rohn


4. Supports You to Manage Stress and Increase Your Resilience and Wellbeing

Being a professional athlete can be stressful. There is a lot to manage, especially if you have a team of people around you and they rely on your results. It can also be tough to deal with other people’s expectations. A life coach can support you to increase your toolkit of resources (i.e. mindfulness, self-management, emotional intelligence and self-compassion) to increase your resilience and wellbeing.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James


5. Develop Written Plans and Grow Accountability Levels

Do you ever wish you had a sounding board to discuss your plans and have someone hold you accountable to them? A life coach is on your side and wants you to succeed as much as you do.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley


6. Increase Harmony and Balance Across Your Sport and Life

Do you find you invest more time in your sport than on other areas of your life? Is having harmony and balance across your sport and life important to you?

“You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” ~ Zig Ziglar


7. Improve Communication Skills

Effective communication relies on a high degree of self-awareness. By developing awareness and understanding your own communication style can help to build quality relationships with other people and handle conflict. Communication is more than just your words, it also includes –

  • how you say it – including the tone of your voice,
  • why you say it – the intention behind the message,
  • when you say it – for example – during an argument, the time of day etc.,
  • what you don’t say – sometimes what you don’t say gives a clearer picture of what is going on than what you say, and
  • your body language – including your facial expressions, gestures and posture.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” ~ George Bernhard Shaw


8. Increase Life Satisfaction

Your career as an athlete may be going well, however how satisfied are you with your whole life? Yes, your life outside of sport? A life coach can support you to look at your whole life and also start the transition process to another job or career.

“To be able to look back upon ones’ life in satisfaction, is to live twice.” ~ Khalil Gibran


9. Unconditional Support

When was the last time you had someone listen to you and your dreams and support you unconditionally? Being an athlete can be challenging, especially if you are supporting other people. A life coach supports you master your whole life, not just your performance at sport.

“Helping others isn’t a chore; it is one of the greatest gifts there is.” ~ Liya Kebede


Over to You…

I hope this post has give you some insight in to the different ways athletes can benefit from life coaching. If you would like to find out more about life coaching, click here. Ready to reconnect with your heart and start living a more connected and whole-hearted life? Then click here to receive the free toolkit 🙂


Learning to Own My Results and Outcomes in Tennis

Learning to Own My Results and Outcomes in Tennis

Last year was my year of radical acceptance. Yes it was big, for many reasons (not just the pandemic). I started to see deeper in to my world. One of the quotes I have used for a while now in the work I do is by Brené Brown. Brené writes –

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

This quote resonates with me on many levels and quite literally I did run from my past. Yep after graduating with a Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Health and Physical Education in December of 2001, I left Maitland and moved to the Gold Coast for a fresh start.

Why? Simply, because I wanted to leave my past behind as a professional tennis player. It felt like a burden to carry. What I didn’t know then was there were some deep wounds that I would go on to face.


Recognising My Deep Sense of Unworthiness…

One of those wounds was that I had a deep sense of unworthiness of not being enough. Just so we are on the same page, this is what I am referring to about a lack of worthiness –

  • “beneath the dignity”, “not deserving” or “not commendable or credible” ~
  • “lacking in excellence or value” or “not deserved” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “not deserving respect or attention.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionary
  • “If a person or thing is unworthy of something good, they do not deserve it.” ~ Collins Dictionary

Yes this lack of worthiness ran deep. Over time, I have discovered a couple of reasons why it was there. One reason was due to the story I had playing around feedback. After most tennis matches, I would listen to feedback about what I could have done better and improve upon. Very rarely did I hear the feedback about what I did well or as Rick Hanson refers to as taking in the good. Looking back, I realised that over time (and with a few other aspects thrown in), this drifted in to a strong belief of unworthiness as a person

During my first 10-day silent meditation retreat, I had a clear seeing in to this belief pattern (and a few others). I also realised on that day I could start to untangle from these beliefs as they were not who I truly was. So – the work began (and still does, just so we are clear).


Starting to Untangle from My Lack of Worthiness…

If you have ever questioned your worthiness or not felt quite good enough, you might be familiar with some of the following thought patterns –

  • Who am I to …
  • Maybe when I …. then I can … or then I will be ready, valuable, deserving or worthy of …
  • I am JUST a ….
  • How could I possibly do …

A lack of worthiness looks like someone who is holding back, someone who is staying small, procrastinating, trying to be perfect, play it safe, or someone who is paralysed by doubt or fear.

A lack of worthiness feels like shame, anger, guilt, worry, fear, disappointment or that sense of disconnectedness.

For me, some of the signs of unworthiness that showed up were –

  • the imposter phenomenon,
  • not speaking up and / or sharing my insights,
  • being a workaholic and not listening to my body and its signals,
  • hiding from my results as an athlete (even though I know they are not who I am), and
  • perfectionism (yes now I reframe that and aim for excellence instead of perfectionism),


My Recent Visit to Raworth…

Last Sunday (11/4/21), I drove to Raworth from Cronulla. I had organised to catch up with a range of people from my tennis days. Raworth was where I lived the majority of my life (from November 1979 until January 2002). Yes, there were a few breaks when I went to the Australian Institute of Sport (1989 and 1990), however it was the place I called home. I also lived and coached for mum and dad whilst I attended university for my Double Undergraduate Degree.

Mum and Dad created a Tennis Academy there and it has now transformed in to Hunter Morpeth Motel and Villa’s (and yes the courts are still there). When I walked in to Raworth on Sunday, many memories came flooding back – the hours on the courts, the games in the front yard with my brother and sister, the eating of the chocolates from the office as well as many, many more. However, the biggest thing for me was the sense of peace and acceptance.

That sense of peace and acceptance was from doing the work over the years (not just last year) and allowing tennis to be what it was. And with that, I could be Jane. I had nothing to prove to anyone – tennis was something I did, however it was never who I am.

First and foremost, I am a human being (as simple and as complex as we are as humans). Sometimes I think that is forgotten in elite and/or professional sport. Yep, I had good days and I had challenging days. And nowadays is no different. Though, now I see each day is part of the richness of a whole and fulfilling life and I embrace the challenges (and yes sometimes, I fall in to the trap of avoidance for a while).

I know I have within me the resilience and coping skills to gently turn towards life / reality instead of running away. However, the biggest gift out of all of this, is that I know I am enough and I do not have to prove my worthiness to anyone. Full stop!

Yes I can own my results as an athlete. I cannot achieve more that what I did – it was what it was. I have realised my worthiness does not live in those things external to me (i.e. the trophies or tournaments I won / lost or the opinions or feedback from other people). My worthiness exists within me and I am enough because I am (just as you are).

I am also grateful to have invested the time walking this adventure and untangling / defusing from those beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, so I could understand and own my story. As Brené Brown has been quoted as saying “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” 


Over to You…

I hope this has given you a little insight in to my adventure of life. Yes there are more learnings. However for the moment, this is enough (remember I am an introvert at heart).

If you have any questions, please let me know. Also, if you would like to find out more about the work I am doing in sport and wellbeing, please visit the website Life Beyond Elite Sport. I have also started sharing stories from other athletes who played sport as well as you just never know, their story could be a dot for another person 🙂

Thanks again for taking the time to read and take good care 🙂 xxx

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