• Gold Medal Squared

Still More on Talent

General vs Specific Abilities


We have beat this horse practically to death, but every time I do a clinic and we start talking about Generality vs. Specificity the coaches can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that “Talent” or some kind of general athletic ability doesn’t enter into the development of volleyball players.


Here is yet another well-thought-out article on Neuroanthropology.net that covers the Talent idea again. If you have read some of the articles on our website this will be familiar ground, but there are some ideas in this article that for me were noteworthy. Let me first say that this isn’t the easiest read, and you’ll have to slog through it a little, but I liked these passages:


“When most people practice, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.”


And this:


“Ericsson’s research suggests very strongly that what is really in short supply in the cultivation of expert performance is not initial ability, but rather expert coaching and motivation to continually develop greater skill.”


I like the idea that I as a coach have an important role in the development of expert performance in my athletes – maybe the biggest role? And with that understanding comes the responsibility to become the best coach I can. And that perhaps in my quest to develop my kids into experts, I myself need to become an expert coach. I for sure can see that there are areas where I need to “work at what I can’t do”. The good thing is that just like playing volleyball, there is no inherent “talent” in coaching volleyball. We can all get better at our jobs.

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