3 Rules of Compressive Practice

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Compressive practice has these three elements:

Isolate the key skill: You put one central skill under the magnifying glass. You aren’t working on the entire set of moves, but just the most important parts — which usually have to do with pattern recognition and reaction.

Pressurize: Make it harder than normal. In games, Cech will never have to deflect three balls. But practicing in this way — forcing nimbleness — will make performance under normal conditions far easier.

Make it Fun and a Little Stupid: These are not “serious-minded drills” — they’re the opposite. They’re funny little games, loaded with emotion, engagement and the opportunity to fail productively. You feel goofy doing them — and that’s the point. This willingness to feel stupid is not a downside: it’s a design feature.

This is Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech:


  1. Alrenous says:

    I’ve invented a ton of epistemic games like this.

  2. Isegoria says:

    You have successfully piqued my interest, Alrenous. Tell me more.

  3. Alrenous says:

    One I played with New Scientist was to read reports of new medical treatments and guess whether they would be later contradicted. The skill is assessing reliability from context, and the pressure is using only a magazine article. The stupid is you’re not expecting to do well, just better than chance. It is apparently possible to get much better than chance. Specifically, I’m talking things like this, with methodology, effect size, and nothing else. So in this case: won’t be contradicted, but they will find significant confounders. It’s hard for me to keep playing this one, because I’ve too much context. I feel like I’ve read this exact article before, so I can cheat.

    Face reading is a more human version. You know those studies that show interviews are over at around the time the handshake is over? So, do it on purpose instead of unconsciously. Guess their personality based only on what you can see at ten feet. Doing this competitively should be a riot akin to charades, though sadly I’ve never had the opportunity. Very un-PC of course, far more than even say Cards Against Humanity. Especially as the evaluation round involves interacting with the target or at least watching someone else do it in e.g. a classroom. This game is why I say Jim’s wrong about caring about race. Spotting the violently inclined is easy even within races, if you’ve practiced.

    Spot the contradiction is my favorite. The challenge is to take a position you don’t like you have to adopt it if, in a moderate overview of it, you can’t find an internal logical contradiction. The outcome of this is I can now feel contradictions. The downside is I can’t turn it off, so movies suck and casual conversation is occasionally wince-inducing.

    The final one I’ll mention is intuition training. Guess the outcome of a situation based solely on how the atmosphere feels. Comparing the expectation to what I would rationally surmise, it showed me how dumb my consciousness is compared to the rest of my brain. Occasionally we’ve both been wrong, but my consciousness has never outperformed my unconsciousness.

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