Wrestling with the nature expertise: a sport specific test of Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer's (1993) theory of "deliberate practice"

MSL research field: 
Skill acquisition
TitleWrestling with the nature expertise: a sport specific test of Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Römer's (1993) theory of "deliberate practice"
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsHodges, NJ, Starkes, JL
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Psychology

Four groups of male amateur wrestlers (n = 42); 2 international and 2 club (current and retired) recalled the number of hours they had spent in wrestling and everyday activities since beginning wrestling. All groups had begun wrestling at a similar age (M = 13 yrs) and had been wrestling for 10 years or more. Data were examined as a function of age and years spent wrestling. Contrary to the findings of The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance (Ericsson, K. A. et al. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406), practice alone activities did not differentiate between the groups, only practice with others. At 6 years into their careers, the international group practised 4.5 hrs/week more than the club wrestlers. At 20 years of age the international wrestlers had accumulated over 1000 more hours of practice with others compared to the club wrestlers. Evaluations of wrestling related activities showed that activities judged to be relevant were also rated high with regards to concentration and enjoyment. Diary data were collected from current wrestlers to validate the retrospective reports. The time spent in all wrestling related activities was comparable for the club and international wrestlers, however, the international wrestlers spent longer travelling to practice, which reflected the necessity to train at a club with the best sparring partners. Practice with others yielded high correlations between estimates for a typical week and the diary data for the international wrestlers. In conclusion, the definition of "deliberate practice" needs to be considered, especially as "relevance" correlates highly with "enjoyment". It is recommended that future studies focus on what it is that motivates people to spend the necessary hours of practice to achieve expertise.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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