10,000 hour theory debunked

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by Rod9301, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. HardDaysNight

    HardDaysNight Out on the slopes Skier

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    That seems pretty reasonable. No one doubts that achieving a high level of expertise at anything takes time and effort!
     
  2. Thread Starter
    TS
    Rod9301

    Rod9301 Out on the slopes Skier

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    True, it takes work.

    Butt his book claims that work is all you need, when in reality talent is a lot more important.
     
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  3. Jerez

    Jerez Out on the slopes Skier

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    To be fair, Gladwell might likely agree. He doesn't claim that ALL you need is 10,000 hours of practice. That's just a nice soundbite. He also includes luck and experiences etc. One of his points is that greatness isn't just innate. Here is how his book is described, in part, on his website:

    His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

    For example, regarding birthdate, he shows that kids who are born early in the school year or sport season have an advantage because they are bigger and likely better than their cohorts at very young ages. Coaches see that, and unconscious bias leads those kids to get more attention and resources than others. Over time, that makes a big difference.
     
  4. jimtransition

    jimtransition Getting on the lift Skier

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    Did you actually read his book? Because that's not really what it says. See the post above for a more accurate summary.

    I feel like believing in some magical idea of talent is an easier way for people to explain to themselves why they are unsuccessful in sports.

    My personal experience was that I competed at an international level in sailing as a teenager, but was undisciplined so didn't go very far. Later on in life I got into skiing, and whilst no one would have described me as talented when I began, hard work and a lot of days on snow has me skiing better than most people.
     
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  5. mdf

    mdf entering the Big Couloir Skier

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    I was very unathletic as a kid. I've worked hard on my skiing as an adult and I'm pretty good. But I will never be as good as a truly talented skier.
     
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  6. LuliTheYounger

    LuliTheYounger I'm just here to bother my mom Skier

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    To be clear, the replication study doesn't show "talent" as the defining factor, it just showed that practice hours don't account for as much difference as previously thought.

    I think there's something to be said for aptitude, but that it often goes nowhere if someone isn't in a conducive environment or doesn't put the work in - which is basically Gladwell's argument. Obviously "10,000" is a nice round number to describe behaviors that are much more mushy & variable in practice, but I've always found it useful to think about as part of developing economy of motion & the quick judgment that comes from familiarity. Not everyone who puts in 10,000 hours is going to be some 1-in-a-million superstar type - but they'll still be a lot closer to maximizing their personal skills than if they'd ditched early on because they weren't immediately successful at hour 1,000.

    I think a lot of 10,000 club people turn out to be solid contributing members in other ways, too. I've met people who did 10,000 hours in sports that they maybe struggle with on a biomechanical level - but they still developed an incredible level of understanding & have often turned out to be ace coaches or really solid technical support people. Not the people that get the fame and the glory, but certainly experts in their own rights that contribute a lot to the health of the sport.
     
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  7. Chris V.

    Chris V. Getting off the lift Skier

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    Some people can do it in, like, 12 hours. I can't stand those people.
     
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  8. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    Gladwell's book isn't a reliable source of the truth on this subject. Dr Ericsson's work is. Gladwell largely misinterpreted Dr. Ericsson's work. The one factor that Dr. Ericsson agrees with - getting to where you want to be is a factor of deliberate and purposeful practice, which are two different, but related exercises. Interestingly, Gladwell never gets into anything but "practice" - without defining.

    As per Dr. Ericsson’s research, everyone has potential. He has found no other limiter than height and weight. If you want to be a center at basketball, and you are 5’7”, that won’t happen. We don’t currently have evidence that says an individual will not excel in a particular domain, except based on those morphological factors, and an ideal build for athletics, if we are limiting the discussion to that domain.
     
  9. François Pugh

    François Pugh Making fresh tracks Skier

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    I had a friend who wanted to be a professional basketball player through out high school. He took physical education at university' tried out for the basketball team; didn't make it. Through the wonders of modern science he came to realize he would never play in the NBA. What was the problem? Dedication, no; he was more than willing to put in the 10,000 hours practice. Height, no; he was over six feet tall. Strength, no; he had the highest strength to weight ratio in his class, and weighed around 200 lbs. His reflexes were too slow.
     
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  10. Kneale Brownson

    Kneale Brownson Out on the slopes Instructor

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    I spent the first 10 years after I got my LIII cert trying out for the examiner crew and finally realized I just didn't have the physical skills set that would let me get there. I did get to work briefly for PSIA's Central Division as a clinician, but they eliminated that position.
     
  11. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    Kneale - if you ever want to address that a FMS eval by a very skilled PT, who also has a deep understanding of skiing physics, can help you break that down into actionable items.

    In my case it is a lack of range of motion in one hip, brought on by three ruptured discs. It took three years, but I am close to being where I want to be as far as range of motion and skiing performance.

    Enjoy.
     
  12. Kneale Brownson

    Kneale Brownson Out on the slopes Instructor

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    This will be my 80th winter. Don't think I need to do any more.
     
  13. HardDaysNight

    HardDaysNight Out on the slopes Skier

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    Yes indeed. I also suspect you have as deep an understanding of skiing physics as does the PT @martyg continually touts!
     
  14. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    Right on!
     
  15. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    I'm a big fan of FMS in general. It has revealed core issues with various athletes. Once those key issues were resolved, it allowed them to build capacity, not compensation. In one case, it directly resulted in an Olympic Gold Medal in Barcelona. The PT that I tout, just happens to have a superb handle on anatomy and skiing. I refer to other PTs for other athletic domains. In Durango we have a superb PhD level PT that incorporates FMS with bike fit.
     
  16. Zen McArcs

    Zen McArcs At the base lodge Skier

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    In my experience, 10,000 hours with a deep emotional connection to the tasks being performed is a world away from the same amount of time entailing just going through the motions. While they may look nearly identical to the naked eye, the myelinization process of the body/mind which the 10,000 technique claims to employ is also worlds apart. The physical, neurological structures would be completely different. Shiffren is not surprisingly a great example of this. While she DID put in the 10,000 hours of work on the most delicate and discrete movement patterns you could imagine, from an unusually young age, they were different in that 1) they were often of her own volition and creation and 2) she genuinely enjoyed the molecular esoterica going on. Of course, this is almost entirely assumed and based on anecdotal reports from her coaches, family, and friends over the years, with some but not a lot of firsthand knowledge. There's a few youtube biographies of Gretzky floating around that speak to repetition with deep emotional connection. Just lends credibility to the phrase: You can't buy a turn, but you can certainly make daily payments on one.
     
  17. geepers

    geepers Out on the slopes Skier

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    Been a few year since I read Gladwell's Outliers but if I recall correctly he did state that the practice had to be deliberate and focused on improvement. 10000 hours of random practice or playing a simple tune like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" will not make anyone a world class violin player. (Although they'd probably have that tune down pat.)

    Also if I recall Gladwell referred to 'complex' activities. I don't recall a definition of what makes an activity complex. (At one level walking is damn complex - try building a robot do do it. OTOH just about everyone can walk.) I took it to mean activities where there was a significant scope of actions to master and the need to adapt the mind/body.

    I thought there are some sports where certain physical traits (other than height/weight) seem to be a requirement. Like the amount of fast twitch muscle fibre or brain processing/reaction speeds. Then again maybe lots of hours doing the right practice means our bodies/brains change. There's evidence athletes in speed sports have faster reaction times than no-athletes - is that because they inherently had quicker synapses or because their reactions became faster from their involvement in the sport? Or both?

    Interesting thread.
     
  18. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    One of the issues that Dr. Ericsson has with Gladwell's popular media book is that he never gets into the nuances of "practice". Dr. Ericsson breaks it into two very different and unique realms: Deliberate and purposeful.

    The 10,000 hour thing: as per Dr. Ericsson's work 10,000 hours was the average of practice time that elite level violinist practiced by the time they reached 20 years of age. That figure was 7,500 hours at 18 years of age. That figure was an estimated average of 20,000 at 30 years of age. Gladwell choose 10,000 hours, probably because it was a convenient sound bite, and not based on anything in particular except that it was a space in the practitioner's time, and a nice round number that would get a lot of press.

    As for fast twitch, slow twitch, etc... I think that as testing protocols become more accessible we'll see that information be refined. For example, 10 years ago DNA testing was unheard of. Now, for $50, it is as easy as a mouse click. The same with nutrition. Now you can have a technician come to your house, do a blood draw, and in 10 days know exactly what you should be eating based on 40+ markers being measured.

    In my case, I had to work my ass off to compete at a national level in more distance based events. For a 2 minute event I could make the national team almost by accident. There is definitely something to be said for exploiting our own unique physiology. However, when someone tells me that they can't do X, I dig. Inevitably, they never hired a coach. They never had an FMS conducted. They never had nutritional profiling. They never had performance metabolic testing conducted. They just winged it, and when it came time to do the hard work, internally and externally, they folded.

    I love this, by Jim Jones. Not meant at all towards you. When I am feeling beat up, I read this. It is one of my points of motiovation:

    And if that limited practice has convinced you anyone better than you is so because of drugs or because they won the genetic lottery or they have better equipment, you may be right. But it’s a lot more likely they are better than you precisely because of your cop-out opinion, because you are lazy, or confused about the meaning of hard work and diet control. Maybe you think self-discipline means drinking two beers instead of six. Maybe you think (OTC) supplements can end-run a bad diet and inadequate recovery. Maybe you think 3×8 of something, anything, is the apogee of training theory. Or maybe you think intelligent training means competing in the gym or on an Internet forum where people are as fit and capable and talented as they anonymously pretend to be. Maybe you read about a workout, do it, think it was easy and exclaim that anyone who found it hard is not as good as you. Well wake up, everyone is a geek to someone and maybe the workout you found easy has been done with more weight, or faster, or with longer range-of-motion. Maybe that named workout doesn’t matter. Maybe the person you compare yourself to doesn’t share your definition of fitness, or happiness or health. Perhaps his or her objective is altogether different. Perhaps, an honest self-assessment would reveal all of your pretense and blind obedience to a particular ideal. Maybe you need self-destruction to lead to self-creation, or reinvention.”
     
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  19. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Well, that was certainly a tough love message.
     
  20. martyg

    martyg Out on the slopes Industry Insider

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    I was raised by very strict, Eastern European parents, so it resonates. It is also why ski school directors don't have me teach kids - that and my potty mouth. :)
     

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