Learning how to do something better requires regular and deliberate practice (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer, 1993; Ericsson, 2002; Starkes, Deakin Allard, Hodges & Hayes, 1996). In the early stages, a learner is conscious of almost everything, but is often unable to identify what is important. As learning progresses, thinking and behaviour gradually become refined and increasingly automated until the learner can do what they want while paying little attention to doing it (Raiman, 1975; Shuell, 1990).
For learning to be effective, practice should be contextualised and relevant thus creating enhanced opportunities for retention and transferability (Cross & Lyle, 1999; Schwartz et al., 2005). A useful koan in addition to ‘practice makes perfect’ and ‘perfect practice makes permanent’ might be ‘purposeful and varied practice makes portable’ (Tozer et al., 2007). Retaining and transferring what an individual has learnt can be improved by experiencing variation in practice and/or frequent changes that introduce unrelated elements, which in turn can lead to improved adaptability, rather than constantly practising the same thing (Magill, 2006; Runesson, 2006).