Psychologist Anders Ericsson explains that the heart of deliberate practice starts with having an awareness of which activities are catalysts for improvement.

“If you just keep doing what you have been doing the argument is that you’re going to be very limited in how much you can actually improve your performance.”

If improving means you have to change your performance, you really need to think about “how does this activity really prepare me to do something better in the future.”

If you can’t come up with anything that will be done better because you went through this activity then maybe it serves a motivational purpose – that by allowing yourself to enjoy doing this, you feel empowered and want to invest in doing work on changing your performance at other times.

The other question is to what extent is imaging going to be the most effective activity.

In working with surgeons and athletes, Anders believes that imagery has a very important role.

“Sometimes if you really want to stretch your limits you should try to have a videotape of a situation that is difficult and then you should be able to react and then get feedback on how appropriate your reaction is.”

This is incredibly valuable because if there’s a mismatch between how you reacted in this unusual situation and what actually would have been the best way or one of the very good ways to react, you need to be made aware. Without this information, you’re missing that opportunity to make a change and actually improve your performance for future events.

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Psychologist & Professor at

Anders Ericsson is a Swedish psychologist and Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University who is internationally recognized as a researcher in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance.