10,000 hour theory debunked

Rod9301

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Posts
1,100
You probably heard of the book that claims that anyone can achieve greatness by practicing 10,000 hours.

Very Democratic, and it makes people feel good.

And hard to disprove, since most people will never practice something for 10,000 hours

I never believed this. I think talent, genetics play a much bigger told them hard work.

Not saying that hard work is not necessary, but it's not nearly sufficient.

A mentor told me years ago:

If hard work made one rich, grave diggers would be billionaires.

Anyway, this study shows that, in Athletics for example, practice accounts for 18 percent of the difference between athletes.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/science-and-health/2019/8/23/20828597/the-10000-hour-rule-debunked
 

James

Skiing the powder
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
9,207
The 10,000 hour thing was always suspect, way too convienient. The Beetles playing live in Hamburg day after day where people weren't paying all that much attention is interesting and explains a lot.
Whatever it takes for a teenager to sneak out of the house at night and go program computers. (Bill Gates), probably says more about the persons learning/advancement than mere hours.

Hitting a baseball has such a mental component that I could believe that up to a point practice makes no difference and might be counter productive. It's hard to practice an actual game.
 

graham418

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 25, 2016
Posts
1,640
Location
Toronto
I have read (in a golf article) that it takes 1000 repetitions for a movement to become engrained in ones muscle memory, to the point where it is done automatically. It also went on to say that it takes 10000 repetitions to correct a bad movement (bad habit), and that is why we must take lessons and learn the correct movements from the start.
 

Novaloafah

Should've paid attention to that lesson.
Skier
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Posts
96
Location
Halifax NS Canada
Been thinking about that rule as I take up guitar lessons. Am gonna have to settle for personal enjoyment i think.

I believe his premise in the book was
claiming that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours,

world class expertise and practicing the correct way seem a bit nebulous to me.

But, his thoughts on birth month wrt league driven sport has some validity imo. You do see it in hockey with players moving up from novice, and I observed it in the kids basketball and soccer leagues. Birth month gives an advantage, whether that's enough is pretty debatable.
 

T-Square

Terry
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,155
Location
Enfield, NH
As a great ski teacher told me. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.

To that I’ve added. Remember, whenever you ski you are practicing. You make the decision whether that is good or bad practice.
 

Winks

Yeah, I'm a pro skier.
Industry Insider
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Posts
232
Location
Where the pow is!
I think about trying to be better at whatever I am learning, studying or practicing than the last time I did it. Progression is key!
 

TrueNorth

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
May 28, 2016
Posts
64
Consider what it would take to accumulate 10000 hours of actual skiing:

Suppose the mountain is open 9-4 (7 hours)
You take 2x15 minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch, leaving 6 hours on the hill
Optimistically only 1/3 of that (2 hours) is actual skiing and 2/3 on the lift (maybe even less % of actual skiing for race training)
Even if you manage 100 days a season of open to close skiing, that’s about 200 hours/year of actual time on the slope.
You would have to do this every year for 50 years to reach 10000 hours

I would bet that almost nobody (even WC pros) has logged 10000 hours of actual skiing time.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
724
1. What you referenced is not a study. It is a synopsis of study in popular media. It is written by someone who may, or may not know that they are doing. The author and the study he quotes misses several of the key elements of the original body of work - as he presents it.

2. If you want to get at the truth, read the original study. Then read the studies that it references to look for holes in methodology. Of course, all of this will cost several hundreds of dollar in accessing those reports.

3. Malcolm Gladwell, who popularized this theory (he is a journalist - not a scientist) based much of what he writes about on the works of Anders Ericsson. Malcolm popularized the 10,000 hour thing in main stream media, not in peer reviewed scientific journals. Because, again, Malcolm is a journalist, not a scientist. As per Dr. Ericsson, Malcolm never interviewed him, never called, him, never once spoke to him. Dr. Ericsson has publicly stated that much of what Malcolm wrote is a misrepresentation.

4. If you really want to understand what the original research entailed, look up those original papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. Pay for the subscription. Do that hard work.

5. Having trained under two national team coaches.... no doubt, morphological make-up can influence outcomes. However from my experience, and in questioning those coaches, the athletes who drill basics, over and over, until they just don't get it right, but cannot get it wrong, who can do those drills as naturally as breathing in their sleep, and have video analysis weekly, if mot daily to insure that their movements are as efficient as possible, are the ones who excel.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
724
I think it's 10000 repetitions, not 10000 hours. You can do a lot of repetitions in an hour.
If you are referring to Dr. Ericsson’s original body or work, the metric is 10,000 hours. Within that metric there is one huge caveat.
 

graham418

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 25, 2016
Posts
1,640
Location
Toronto
Consider what it would take to accumulate 10000 hours of actual skiing:

Suppose the mountain is open 9-4 (7 hours)
You take 2x15 minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch, leaving 6 hours on the hill
Optimistically only 1/3 of that (2 hours) is actual skiing and 2/3 on the lift (maybe even less % of actual skiing for race training)
Even if you manage 100 days a season of open to close skiing, that’s about 200 hours/year of actual time on the slope.
You would have to do this every year for 50 years to reach 10000 hours

I would bet that almost nobody (even WC pros) has logged 10000 hours of actual skiing time.

But what about the time I spend daydreaming about skiing? Surely that has to count for something?
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
724
But what about the time I spend daydreaming about skiing? Surely that has to count for something?
Consider what it would take to accumulate 10000 hours of actual skiing:

Suppose the mountain is open 9-4 (7 hours)
You take 2x15 minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch, leaving 6 hours on the hill
Optimistically only 1/3 of that (2 hours) is actual skiing and 2/3 on the lift (maybe even less % of actual skiing for race training)
Even if you manage 100 days a season of open to close skiing, that’s about 200 hours/year of actual time on the slope.
You would have to do this every year for 50 years to reach 10000 hours

I would bet that almost nobody (even WC pros) has logged 10000 hours of actual skiing time.
Dry land training. Mental rehearsal. Using a device like HaloSport, which USOC and the USST are using, with great promise. HaloSport's device is shown to reduce learning time by 50%. That is far less wear and tear on the body. Neuroplasticity is one of two big initiatives that USOC is involved with right now.

Most rec skiers get caught up in watching videos of elite skiers doing gym workouts, and emulate that workout. What rec skiers miss: the range of motion, and the various balance drills that are prescribed by coaches. Those go on year round. Red Bull, Go Pro, etc., often don't put up YouTube videos of those, because they are not visually compelling. Those make you better at your craft, regardless of what your craft is. You don't need to be on snow. That approach of video analysis with a PhD level physiologist, PT, kinesiologist - and subsequent drills - is huge for anyone: from those on the razor's edge to advanced rec skiers.

The reality of any more explosive, technique driven sport is that your workouts generally range from 60 - 120 minutes. The shorter workouts tend to be heavy load sessions - intense intervals, in kayaking, for example. The longer sessions tend to be engineered to work a different energy delivery system, at low intensity, or very technique driven sessions. That typically happens in the AM. The afternoon workout is typically a gym / range of motion, or very technique driven workout.

USST will host a high performance summit in Oct. That will be a great event to attend for anyone who wants an inside look. Tickets are maybe $300.

Also, anyone on an elite level is also not limited by "seasons". If you are at that level, you switch hemispheres.
 

HardDaysNight

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Posts
684
Location
Park City, UT
Consider what it would take to accumulate 10000 hours of actual skiing:

Suppose the mountain is open 9-4 (7 hours)
You take 2x15 minute breaks, plus 30 minutes for lunch, leaving 6 hours on the hill
Optimistically only 1/3 of that (2 hours) is actual skiing and 2/3 on the lift (maybe even less % of actual skiing for race training)
Even if you manage 100 days a season of open to close skiing, that’s about 200 hours/year of actual time on the slope.
You would have to do this every year for 50 years to reach 10000 hours

I would bet that almost nobody (even WC pros) has logged 10000 hours of actual skiing time.
Yes. I have made the identical point whenever the “10,000 hours” gibberish is brought up and also arrived at about 50 years to get there. Arithmetic has an ineluctable quality to it!
 

Steve

Articulating
Skier
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Posts
684
Yes. I have made the identical point whenever the “10,000 hours” gibberish is brought up and also arrived at about 50 years to get there. Arithmetic has an ineluctable quality to it!
Nice word!
 

fatbob

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,541
Yeah I've never quite bought the 10,000 hours for any shmoe. For starters it takes a superhuman amount of dedication to put in that sort of commitment for anyone who isn't already outperforming peers. And therefore I suspect at least part of that original outperformance is based on natural aptitude/ quick study/ athletic genes etc. I suspect the perfect practice just turbocharges that.

The Polger sisters in chess are often also referenced but again are kids with very academic and curious parents really starting from a normalised genetic base?
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
724
Yes. I have made the identical point whenever the “10,000 hours” gibberish is brought up and also arrived at about 50 years to get there. Arithmetic has an ineluctable quality to it!
When I look at a 15 year athletic career, 10,000 hours averages to a little less than 13 hours per week. Some weeks will definitely be more, or less, depending on training goals and periodization. Definitely attainable.
 

Seldomski

Paralysis by analysis
Skier
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Posts
990
I think the 10,000 hrs refers to one "man year" of effort (full time), which is 2000 hours. (50 weeks @ 40 hrs a week). So, 5 years of working on something full time will make you an 'expert.'

Not saying this is true, just explaining the idea.

For skiing, if you count things like film review, time in the gym, etc, you can get to 10K hrs in pro-skier years.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
724
For starters it takes a superhuman amount of dedication to put in that sort of commitment for anyone who isn't already outperforming peers.
I think the 10,000 hrs refers to one "man year" of effort (full time), which is 2000 hours. (50 weeks @ 40 hrs a week). So, 5 years of working on something full time will make you an 'expert.'

Not saying this is true, just explaining the idea.

For skiing, if you count things like film review, time in the gym, etc, you can get to 10K hrs in pro-skier years.
It wouldn’t be true. It would be extremely challenging to maintain that focus / intensity for 40 hours per week. You have physiology and neurological overtraining. And just mental fatigue. Training, without adequate recovery, leads to a train wreck. Even with the athlete checking every box, every day, training 40 hours per week is extremely optimistic.

You can look up Dr. Ericsson’s body of work on line. Better yet, you can attend one of his lectures and ask him.
 
Top