Deliberate practice & performance in music, games, sports, education & professions: A meta-analysis
Posted by Dean Holden at July 14th, 2014
1Princeton University 2Michigan State University 3Rice University
Brooke N. Macnamara, Department of Psychology, Peretsman-Scully Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Contributions B. N. Macnamara and D. Z. Hambrick developed the study concept. All authors contributed to the study design. B. N. Macnamara performed effect-size data collection with input from D. Z. Hambrick. B. N. Macnamara performed the data analyses with input and guidance from F. L. Oswald. D. Z. Hambrick drafted the introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections of the manuscript. B. N. Macnamara drafted the method and results sections. All three authors provided critical revisions. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular-science writing—but is it supported by empirical evidence? To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated. We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.