JAN 14th, 2021
What is deliberate practice? top
In 1993 was performed a research study by Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer, "The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance".
Is it enough just to practice to become an expert? Some studies done in the late 1800's on morse code operators showed that they had reached a plateau in performance: even though the operators continued to practice, they did not improve. After modifying the training method, performance began to improve again: the mere repetition of a gesture is not enough to guarantee an improvement in performance, but method is needed. This method is called deliberate practice.
Characteristics of deliberate practice top
The conditions for optimal learning are:
Without immediate feedback, it is impossible to improve. The student doesn't know if they are doing the exercise well or if they are doing it wrong. This is why repetition alone is not enough, you need repetition and constant feedback.
Laboratory tests showed that subjects often independently tried new methods to improve their performance. Some did not ( probable perceptual or cognitive deficit), leading to a stop in improvement. However, when instructed in the correct method of performing the exercises, these subjects also returned to improving. For this reason, the presence of a teacher, or coach, who supervises and corrects the work of the students is important.
Characteristics of training session top
Deliberate practice sessions should be designed so that they can be completed without exhaustion, to maintain maximum concentration and fully recover for the next workout.
Some studies have shown that there are no positive effects in extending deliberate practice for more than 4 hours a day, and the benefits are minimal beyond 2 hours a day. Other studies on perceptual-motor skills argue that the effective duration of each session should be about 1 hour; multiple daily sessions can be performed, but with ample rest between each. This is because the student, while practicing, needs to be completely focused in order to find and correct any errors.
At first, sessions should be short and sparse. Over time the intensity and frequency of the workouts will increase. Too high an intensity and frequency from the first few workouts will soon lead to exhaustion and possibly dropping out.
The structure of training programs should be dictated by the abilities of the student. The more the student improves, the more capable they will be of performing more difficult workouts and/or for a longer period of time. The goal of deliberate practice is not "keep repeating the same exercise," but the exercise must be continually adapted and modified based on the student's improvement.
Research has focused on studying musicians, particularly violinists and pianists, and it has been shown that 2-3 hours of deliberate practice every day over a 10-year period is required to achieve world-class performance (leading to the famous 10000-hour rule needed to become an expert at something).
It has been shown that talent does not exist, because world-class champions in any field (from sports to science) have only accumulated more hours of practice than others, starting at a very young age. What differentiates these people from the average is the ability to perform many hours of training while remaining focused and without getting tired, and this is mainly due to passion: the more we like doing something, the more time we can devote to it.
Vehicle driving application top
In 2018 an interesting research was carried out by Otto Lappi, entitled "The Racer's mind: How core perceptual-cognitive expertise is reflected in deliberate practice procedures in professional motorsport". The author has read all the books about sport driving technique published in the last 60 years, written by both car and motorcycle drivers. No forms other than track driving were considered (so no motocross, rally, autocross...). After this screening, a list of 28 books written between 1959 and 2016 was obtained.
From these books were extracted all suggested exercises that followed the principles of deliberate practice, that is, having the following characteristics:
A total of 12 exercises were found to meet these prerequisites, divided into three levels:
Exercise list top
Further technique exercises top
Driving a car, the driver must "only" accelerate, brake and steer in the correct way. In a motorcycle, in addition to this, he must also balance the weights with his body and exert the right forces in the right places, he must move from one side to the other of the bike in a corner, forward or backward and so on.
It is useful to train these movements (and also the feeling with the bike) in an empty parking lot, using a series of exercises described shortly. As a general rule, in any situation and with any two-wheeled vehicle, the body must be supported with the legs and the handlebars serve only to steer, so the arms must always remain relaxed and the legs must work as active suspension. Start slowly and increase speed gradually, but always remaining relaxed, the body must never be tense.
Exercise n.1: Skidpad top
Technique: When riding on the track, the body in corners should be moved inward and as low as possible, one sits on the saddle with the outer buttock only, the outer arm should be almost fully extended to allow the head to be about above the inner hand.
Exercise: Drive in a circle at a constant speed around a cone (or following a circle drawn on the ground) focusing on executing the driving position correctly. Start slowly, then gradually increase speed and/or tighten the radius of the circle. Perform in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
Exercise n.2: Oval top
Technique: Every corner has an entrance and an exit:
At the exit, it is essential to dose the accelerator correctly: the opening must be smooth and gradual, but constant: the moment you start to open the throttle, you continue to open it gradually. Proceeding at constant throttle is a mistake. If the acceleration is too aggressive you will lighten the front wheel causing a widening of the trajectory. Also, due to the chain pull, the rear suspension will stiffen, causing probable loss of grip.
On entry, the motorcycle should be steered as quickly as possible to open the throttle earlier. The steering phase should be done by voluntarily counter-steering the handlebars: to steer to the left, push on the left half of the handlebars in order to turn it to the right. This will make the bike "fall" to the left.
Exercise: Place two cones at a specified distance apart. Start without using the brakes so you don't have to manage too many variables. Braking phase can be added later. Focus on the correct execution of the entry and exit. In this exercise it is useful to time the lap time to evaluate improvements. You increase the difficulty by reducing the radius of curvature around the cones.
Exercise n.3: Figure-eight top
Technique: Each track is characterized by a sequence of corners, during which the bike continuously changes direction. To change direction, first move the body, and then apply steering torque, to avoid forcing on the handlebars and thus destabilizing the bike. Use your legs to move your body, for example by pushing your outside knee against the tank, thus leaving the handlebars free. Apply steering torque by countersteering voluntarily.
Exercise: Place two cones at a given distance, and perform the figure of eight around them. This is a fairly complete exercise: By placing the cones at a distance equal to the bend diameter, you will perform two complete circles. This trains the change of direction and the constant speed curving phase of exercise 1. As you increase the distance between the cones, you will add an intermediate acceleration and braking phase as in exercise 2. The difficulty of the exercise increases by decreasing the radius of curvature.
Exercise n.4: Braking top
Technique: Move your bottom on the saddle to the position you will need to have during cornering, then lift your upper body from the "in fairing" position to the upright position and begin braking. During the braking phase it is unavoidable to put weight on the handlebars, but try to limit it as much as possible by forcing your thigh on the tank or squeezing the bike between your knees. The more weight there is on the handlebars, the more weight is loaded on the front wheel, increasing the risk of blocking it or lifting the rear wheel. In addition, the rider will tire sooner. The brake should be applied in a gentle and progressive, but firm manner. It does not have to be a slow movement, but it must be progressive. A too aggressive movement could block the wheel, send the fork to the ground, in general destabilize the bike and lengthen the braking distance.
Exercise: Proceed at a constant speed in a straight section, then brake to a complete stop. Measure the distance traveled and try to improve it.
Exercise n.5: Slalom top
Technique: On the track, but especially on the street, you may have to dodge an obstacle. The ability to dodge an obstacle could save your life or, if the obstacle is another person, save his. Steering must be very fast, there is no time to move your body from one side of the bike to the other. Steer to the right by quickly turning the handlebars to the left, then to the right, and so on.
Exercise: Arrange a row of cones at a certain distance, and proceeding in a straight line, slalom between them, continuously turning left and right. Increase the difficulty of the exercise by increasing the speed or reducing the distance between the cones.
The exercises just described carried out at low speed in a controlled environment allow us to improve our driving skills in the safest way possible. This will result in a better control of the vehicle, and therefore a faster and safer driving.
I'll conclude by summarizing this entire article into 6 essential guide points:
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