Expertise in Ultra-Endurance Triathletes Early Sport Involvement, Training Structure, and the Theory of Deliberate Practice
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The theory of deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993) is predicated on the concept that the engagement in specific forms of practice is necessary for the attainment of expertise. The purpose of this paper was to examine the quantity and type of training performed by expert UE triathletes. Twenty-eight UE triathletes were stratified into expert, middle of the pack, and back of the pack groups based on previous finishing times. All participants provided detailed information regarding their involvement in sports in general and the three triathlon sports in particular. Results illustrated that experts performed more training than non-experts but that the relationship between training and performance was not monotonic as suggested by Ericsson et al. Further, experts' training was designed so periods of high training stress were followed by periods of low stress. However, early specialization was not a requirement for expertise. This work indicates that the theory of deliberate practice does not fully explain expertise development in UE triathlon.