Purposeful practice that has an objective criteria of what ‘good’ is and is practice designed by an expert. Unlike practice that is merely purposeful, it is informed by the aggregated experience of those who have come before. When a generation of experts gains a deeper understanding of their field, this new understanding revises the training requirements for the novices just entering the field. As a result, the training evolves alongside the development of the field. If a novice practices without adhering to the guidance of those who have come before, his or practice is not deliberate.
Cal Newport explains the requirements for deliberate practice in Deep Work (Nick note: These requirements are more related to Ericsson’s notion of ‘purposeful practice’ than ‘deliberate practice’): “This brings us to question of what deliberate practice actually requires. Its core components are usually identified as follows: (1) your attention is tightly focused on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master; (2) you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.” (35)
Newport continues on what deliberate practice achieves on a neurological level: “By focusing intensely on a specific skill, you’re forcing the relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation. This repetitive use of a specific circuit triggers cells called oligodendrocytes to begin wrapping layers of myelin around the neurons in circuits — effectively cementing the skill. The reason, therefore, why it’s important to focus intensely on the task at hand while avoid distraction is because this is the only way to isolate the relevant neural circuit enough to trigger useful myelination. By contrast, if you’re trying to learn a complex new skill (say, SQL database management) in a state of low concentration (perhaps you also have your Facebook feed open), you’re firing too many circuits simultaneously and haphazardly to isolate the groups of neurons you actually want to strengthen.” (37)
Peak by Anders Ericsson
Deep Work by Cal Newport