Expert coaches facilitate effective deliberate practice

Practice efficacy is highly sensitive to method design; past a certain level of performance, effective Deliberate practice, after Ericsson typically requires an expert coach’s knowledge about practice methods, as well as their supervision and feedback. For instance, an expert coach (typically also or formerly an expert practitioner) will invent new tasks (based on their knowledge of practice methods) to overcome weaknesses.

Serious students may spend dozens of hours in practice per week, but because 1-on-1 instruction is expensive, most of that will probably be alone or in group settings. So a key role for expert coaches is to guide students’ individual practice: students meet with the coach once or twice a week for a couple hours, and the coach will suggest what the student should spend the other 20 hours that week doing.

Q. In most domains of practice, how do coaches influence students’ day-to-day efforts?
A. By guiding their individual practice activities between practice sessions.

Q. Why do students generally spend most of their time in individual practice, even if they have a coach?
A. Expert-level skill requires many hours of practice, and one-on-one instruction is expensive.

Q. Why must coaches themselves usually be former expert practitioners?
A. Expert facilitation often requires inventing new practice methods, which requires extensive personal experience with practice

Q. Besides their knowledge as practitioners in the domain, what knowledge does an expert coach bring to a student’s practice?
A. Knowledge of teaching methods


Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363. Ericsson et al - The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance