Does Practice Make Perfect?

I’ve spent the last 18 years of my life believing that I was destined to suck at sports for the rest of my life. I’ve tried every sport you can think of, all resulting in failure. Perhaps that was my issue; maybe if I practiced more I would be able to have a real talent. The answers are varied. According to this article, very little of the success stories we hear of athletes or other talented people comes from birth.

Benjamin Bloom studied 120 of these talented people and found that most didn’t show any real talent until their proper training began. He concluded that most people can learn to do something well if given the proper tools to learn.

This article however, claims the opposite. It says that under 90 studies, only 20 to 25% of the differences between the goods and greats of whichever field was the practice they put in. These scientists decided that natural born talent is more important.

In the same article as previously mentioned, other scientists argued that those studies that were published by the New York Times were not done perfectly. It claimed “practice,” but does that mean a couple hours or 70 hours a week of practice? It also varies among specializations. For example, I’m sure anyone can be taught to be a better reader (barring impairment), but not everyone can be taught to be an excellent award-winning artist.

Personally, I think that it’s a mixture of the two–nature and nurture. This is an age old debate that is common among many phenomenas in science. I think that if someone is born into a family of professional athletes, they’re more inclined to be great but if they never picked up a sport, I’m sure they would not be amazing at first try. That’s another thing that leads towards nuture for me. A personal anecdote: I have friends who have parents that were amazing at their respective sports and the children are often good because of the relentless coaching by their parents and the practice they put into it.

Also, there is the whole theory in the book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell, that if anyone puts in 10,000 hours of work, they will be masters of their chosen field. There’s a theory in the book about why the most professional ice hockey players are born in January, and it’s not because they’re used to the cold.. But more on that in a later blog!

Maybe if I stuck with one of the sports and truly practiced hard, I would be able to be an Olympian.. Maybe not.


2 thoughts on “Does Practice Make Perfect?

  1. Christina Marie Pici

    I am inclined to disagree with the article that states practice does not really have that big of an effect. I have played sports ever since I was able to start joining teams, which was probably when I was around five years old. By no means did I start out every sport and excel immediately. My best example would be my volleyball career in high school. Sophomore year I never got to see any varsity time because I honestly was just not that good. Being that I am in love with volleyball, I worked my ass off to get better before the next season because I wanted to be a varsity player. Junior and senior year I was always on the floor and one of the top players to watch in the WPIAL. I can not express how hard I worked to be there and all of the time I spent practicing to better myself. However, another reason I think I was able to make such a big change is because I changed my mind set. I set my mind in direction of reaching my goals and made a promise to myself that I would not give up until I reached them. I think that in order to truly make yourself better at something, not only do you have to work really hard and practice a lot for it, but you have to have the right mindset.

  2. Connor Baun

    I connect this idea to my own life in the idea of my interest in musical instruments, particularly guitar and bass. I come from a family of musicians, my father, grandparents, and both brothers have always had an inclination to music, and I picked up the hobby of guitar later on than the rest of my family, who all had been naturally talented as musicians and had a good “ear for music, that is, being able to hear something and recreate it very quickly on guitar, which I also inherited in a way. I think that I got a leg up in a sense with this “inheritance” however I also practice very often as well, and I think without this factor (similar to Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory, I think that I wouldn’t have any talent at all.

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