Monday, 27 May 2024

Deliberate Practice: The Path to Improvement

When it comes to practice, showing up at the gym is just the beginning. There’s a difference between merely going through the motions and engaging in purposeful practice. In this article, we will explore the concept of deliberate practice and how it can lead to significant improvements in sports and life.

The Power of Deliberate Practice

In the book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the 10,000-hour principle, based on a study by psychologist Anders Ericsson. This principle was often misunderstood as a guarantee of mastery after 10,000 hours of practice. However, the key takeaway is that deliberate practice, not just any practice, leads to mastery.

Applying Deliberate Practice to Volleyball

In the context of volleyball, mindlessly going through the motions won’t lead to significant improvements. To truly enhance your game, your training needs to include the following elements:

  • Goals: Set specific goals for yourself to work towards during practice sessions.
  • Intense focus: Stay fully engaged and focused on the task at hand.
  • Pushing your comfort zone: Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone and attempting new skills or techniques.
  • Measuring improvement: Find ways to track your progress and measure improvements over time.
  • Feedback from others: Seek feedback from coaches or teammates to gain valuable insights and guidance for improvement.
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Getting Feedback While Setting Goals

Feedback plays a crucial role in the deliberate practice process. While coaches can provide valuable feedback, you can also seek input from your teammates. Working with a training partner who can provide feedback and support can be highly beneficial in maintaining motivation and focus.

The Importance of Specific Goals

National team players often set specific goals for themselves. For example, when working on passing, a player might aim to stand in against a certain number of high-level serves and successfully pass eight out of ten on their sweet spot. By setting specific goals, players can focus their efforts on specific areas of improvement and track their progress effectively.

The Sweet Spot in Passing

Passing requires proficiency in hitting the ball on the forearm’s sweet spot, the area between the wrist and elbow. Great passers can effectively contact the ball on their sweet spot, regardless of the serve’s direction or height. Developing this skill involves practicing different scenarios and learning to adapt to various serve placements.

The Power of Deliberate Practice: A Music Study Example

A study conducted in Japan with young children demonstrated the power of deliberate practice. Through structured practice sessions, these children were taught “perfect pitch,” the ability to identify musical keys. While perfect pitch was traditionally considered an innate talent, all 24 children in the study mastered it within a year and a half. This showcases the tremendous potential for improvement through deliberate practice.

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Reaching Your Potential

While certain limitations may exist, deliberate practice can lead to immense improvements in any skill, regardless of innate abilities. Practicing with purpose and intention is the single most effective way to reach your potential in volleyball or any other endeavor you choose to pursue.


Q: How can deliberate practice benefit me in volleyball?
A: Deliberate practice allows you to focus on specific areas of improvement, measure progress, and receive valuable feedback from coaches or teammates.

Q: Can deliberate practice be applied to other sports or activities?
A: Absolutely! The principles of deliberate practice can be applied to any skill or domain, leading to significant improvements.


Deliberate practice is the key to unlocking your potential in volleyball. By setting goals, staying focused, pushing your limits, and seeking feedback, you can make tremendous strides in your game. Remember, it’s not just about putting in the hours but practicing with purpose and intention. Start incorporating deliberate practice into your training routine and watch your skills soar. For more information on volleyball and training resources, visit Alpinetgheep.