Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, But It Helps

July 3, 2014 7:56 am 2 comments

And now the baPAFF_063014_practiceexpertise_newsfeature-1d news: if you’ve been playing a sport for 20 years and you’re not getting better, you probably never will. Practice can only do so much. How much, exactly, has been calculated by psychologists at Princeton University, who scoured the scientific literature for studies examining practice and performance in domains as diverse as music, games, sports, professions, and education. The Association for Psychological Science reports that, based on a meta-analysis of 88 studies that attempted to equate practice with expertise, the researchers found that overall, practice accounts for only about 12 percent of individual differences observed in performance across the various domains. What does make a difference? The researchers suggest that the age at which a person begins a particular activity matters, and oh yeah, “certain cognitive abilities” also play a role. Here’s the interesting part: the psychologists found that practice accounted for about 26 percent of individual differences in performance for games, about 21 percent of individual differences in music, and about 18 percent of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4 percent of individual differences in education and less than 1 percent of individual differences in performance in professions– like psychology.

2 Comments

  • So, does that last sentence mean that one does not have to “practice” being a psychologist to be good psychologist? Hmmmm.

  • Most of us geezers don’t pursue a sport or exercise regimen with the usually unattainable hope of being “perfect”. It’s usually for fun and fitness.

    If you’ve tried to be perfect at something for 20 or so years, maybe you ought to try something else or go see a “psychologist”. Hopefully you see one that has a real “practice” and doesn’t waste his/her time on questionable studies.

Leave a Reply


Recent Posts

  • Eating Well Pain The Dangers Of Drinking Too Much–Water

    The Dangers Of Drinking Too Much–Water

    Yes, it’s important for athletes to stay hydrated, but as Gretchen Reynolds warns in the New York Times, hydration can easily go too far, and over hydration is often much more dangerous than dehydration. That’s because drinking too much water can lead to potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication, in which the body is unable to rid itself of so much fluid and cells literally swell. Reynolds quotes Kevin Miller, an associate professor of athletic training at Central Michigan University in […]

    Read more →
  • Fitness Gear Fitness Bands: How Accurate Are They?

    Fitness Bands: How Accurate Are They?

    They’re pretty good when it comes to measuring calories burned, but with strength training, fitness bands need to do some work. That’s the verdict from researchers at Iowa State University, who tested four consumer fitness trackers – Fitbit Flex, Nike+ FuelBand SE, Jawbone UP 24 and Misfit Shine – to see how well they measured sedentary, aerobic and resistance activity. Two research monitors – the BodyMedia Core and Actigraph GT3X+ – were also included in the study. An Iowa State news […]

    Read more →
  • Fitness Pain Long Hours Jack Heart Risk

    Long Hours Jack Heart Risk

    Want to lower your risk of heart attack? Work fewer hours. Researchers at the University College London are convinced that people who work more than 55 hours a week have a 33 percent greater risk of stroke and a 13 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease than those working standard hours. Yikes! The New York Times reports that the researchers analyzed work and health data of more than 600,000 people in a study that controlled for smoking, physical activity and high blood pressure […]

    Read more →
  • Attitude Pain Music Reduces Pain of Surgery

    Music Reduces Pain of Surgery

    The choice of music doesn’t matter, and the volume, well, it shouldn’t be so loud that it interferes with the surgeons’ communication, but other than that, it all seems to work toward reducing a surgery patient’s pain and anxiety, as well as the need for post-op painkillers. We know this because researchers at Brunel University in London analyzed 73 studies involving nearly 7,000 patients, looking at the impact of music on postoperative recovery. A Brunel University news release reports that the study […]

    Read more →
  • Attitude Pain Could Sleeping On Your Side Stave Off Alzheimer’s?

    Could Sleeping On Your Side Stave Off Alzheimer’s?

    Could sleeping on your side stave off Alzheimer’s disease? That the suggestion of research conducted at Stony Brook University, where radiologists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the brain’s glymphatic pathway, a  system that clears wastes and other harmful chemicals from the brain. The scientists, who worked with rodents, not humans, found that a lateral sleeping position–the most common sleeping position for humans and most animals, is the best position to most efficiently remove waste from the brain. That’s a […]

    Read more →
  • Gear The Secret To Buying Running Shoes: Comfort

    The Secret To Buying Running Shoes: Comfort

    Writing in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds gives us the lowdown on several scientific efforts to find the best way to buy running shoes. Some studies looked at that bugbear of running specialists: pronation. Guess what? When you’re buying shoes, it doesn’t matter. When runners who pronate and runners who don’t were given the same shoes for a year, those who overpronate actually had fewer injuries than those who don’t. What does matter? Comfort. Reynolds cites a 2001 study […]

    Read more →
  • Fitness Gear Rating iPhone Fitness Apps

    Rating iPhone Fitness Apps

    At the University of Florida, yes, the place where Gatorade was first concocted four decades ago, researchers took a close look at 30 free fitness apps made for iPhones, paying particular attention to their adherence to guidelines for physical activity from the American College of Sports Medicine, including parameters for safety, warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching, intensity, frequency and progression. Ready? The envelope please…..A U of Florida news release reports that when compared to the guidelines for aerobic exercise, strength or resistance, […]

    Read more →
  • Pain Women's Health How Mosquitoes Find You: Smell, Sight and Temperature

    How Mosquitoes Find You: Smell, Sight and Temperature

    How do mosquitoes find us before they bite us? Let me count the ways. One, they smell us, or more specifically, they smell the carbon dioxide that is exhaled every time we breathe out. Two, they also see us, or at least they use their eyes to detect dark objects, which are particularly attractive to mosquitoes who have already detected carbon dioxide. And three, they sense our body heat and move in our direction. How do we know this? Because […]

    Read more →