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The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games [Paperback]

K. Anders Ericsson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3, 1996 0805822321 978-0805822328 1st
Excellence and the highest levels of performance in the arts and sciences, sports, and games have always been an object of fascination to both scientists and lay people. Only during the last 20 years have scientists studied these levels of performance in the laboratory in order to identify their mediating mechanisms. Contrary to the common belief that innate talents are the critical factors for exceptional performance, investigators have found that acquired skills, knowledge, and physiological adaptations in response to intense practice are the primary mechanisms, mediating the highest levels of performance.

This is the first and only book to examine how elite performers effect their exceptional accomplishments. The world's leading researchers on expert performance and creative achievement review theories and recent findings from many different domains of expertise on how experts optimize improvement in their performance and eventually attain excellence. Elite performers are shown to have engaged in deliberate-practice activities specifically designed to improve their performance from an early age. By age 20 they have often accumulated over 10,000 hours of practice! The essential elements of deliberate practice, such as specific goals to improve performance, successive refinement through repetition, feedback and instruction, are explicated for different domains. Although the content of practice tasks will necessarily differ from domain to domain, investigators have found invariant characteristics for the optimal duration of practice sessions, maximal amounts of daily practice, the length of intense preparation (around 10 years), and ages of peak performance. Some of the book's chapters extend the review to the acquisition of everyday-life skills such as reading, to the performance of teams of experts, and to the development of creative achievement, geniuses, and artistic child prodigies. The book concludes with commentaries by several outstanding scientists in psychology, education, and history of science who discuss the generalizability of presented ideas and raise issues for future issues.

EXTRA COPY...It could be said that striving for excellence is what characterizes humanity, or perhaps what characterizes humanity at its best. Why do so few individuals ever reach the highest levels when so many start out on the Road to Excellence? In this book, the world's foremost researchers of expert performance in domains as diverse as sports, medicine, chess, and the arts explore the similarities and differences in the extended and strenuous Road to Excellence taken by the successful individuals in each domain. Their findings will intrigue and inspire readers who are themselves driven to achieve or who simply want to better understand the processes involved.

Frequently Bought Together

The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games + Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments + The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology)
Price for all three: $170.58

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Editorial Reviews

Review impressive assemblage of expertise....useful to interested researchers.
Contemporary Psychology

The Road to Excellence signals the emergence of an exciting and important new chapter in the study of extraordinariness. As distinct from such rubrics as creativity, giftedness, talent, intelligence and genius, the focus here is on experimental and field studies of expert performance in diverse fields: music, chess, figure skating, wrestling, golf, medicine, perception, memory, and reading. While each field raises its own conceptual and methodological problems, most of the authors agree with Ericsson's central finding of the profoundly transformative power of prolonged, well-thought out and well coached 'deliberate practice.' This book is a must-read for anyone interested in how people come to do their best.
Howard E. Gruber
Professor of Developmental and Educational Psychology, Teachers College Columbia

This volume contains an interesting description of the development of expert performance in a variety of fields. It is a balanced collection; advocates of the view that experts are born and that experts are made both have their say. Readers will obtain a good picture of how modern scientific psychologists view expertise. The book will be a valuable reference for anyone interested in human cognition.
Earl Hunt
Professor of Psychology, University of Washington

This is psychology at its best: employing data from both laboratory and natural environments, using both contentious and provocative ideas. I recommend it highly. Researchers, teachers, parents, mentors and coaches--everyone interested in the development of high levels of talent--will learn much from this book.
David Berliner
Regents' Professor of Education, Arizona State University

Product Details

  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1st edition (June 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805822321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805822328
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing content but not a blue print for trainers June 29, 2006
This is an amazing book. . It covers skill mastery in many domains (golf, wrestling, chess, music), showing the commonalities that lie at the heart of exceptional, as apposed to average, performance (e.g. consistent, focused practices over years characterized by high quality feedback, the need for the individual to master self-regulation if he or she wants to increase skill over time, etc.) It also provides a cautionary tale, in the form of a golf pro who developed exceptional skill but who never achieved the type of fame or wealth of say a Jack Nicholas. Why? Because skill too narrowly defined, no mater how great, does not lead to achievement. You have to take in the total context (social, political, etc) if you want your "skill" to lead to widespread recognition. At least that's what I took away from my reading. While the book doesn't lay out an explicit "blue print" for applying it's information, it is still a wonderful resource for trainers or teachers looking to develop high level instruction and to mentor those pursuing peak performance.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliberate practice is the best tool June 4, 2008
Is the highest level of expertise attributable to innate talents or to hard work? K. Anders Ericsson, the editor of the book declared that "experts are always made , not born". "With the exception of some sports, no characteristic of the brain or body constrains an individual from reaching an expert level." According to Ericsson's research, people who reach the peak practice differently from people who stagnate. Here, the same amount of time put in does not mean the same quality of experience gained. Deliberate practice is Ericsson's big idea. It is the "practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort." "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." It demands high concentration, and much reflection and feedback analysis. And it is important to "identify the aspects of your performance that will need to be improved at your next level of skill".

The book is a collection of 15 academic papers for a symposium on "The acquisition of expert performance: Implications for optimal professional development". The studies of the expert performance in the book range from disciplines in arts and science, sports and games. With many regression equations, data tables, and data graphs, it is not a leisure read. However, the topic is immensely interesting to me and I think it's well worth the time to digest the information.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best education book written July 7, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having been an educator physician for some time, Dr. Ericsson reveals the nature of expertise as opposed to good, OK, mediocre, learners. He also lends insight into the difference between casual practice and dedicated or focused practice - which is the key to mastery. Anyone who wishes to be the best learner or the best teacher should read this book - every year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book June 11, 2013
By robin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Old book but gives insight into how children learn, how winners are created on many levels. If you can read pass all the statistical info and scientific data you will find a lot of remarkable info. Best read along with Daniel Coyne the Talent Code
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