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November 17, 2003
Stress today on Ubersportingpundit

Nothing substantial here today, I'm afraid. But I have just posted a rather long piece for Ubersportingpundit about the preparations made by the England rugby team for their attempt to win the Rugby World Cup. They have reached the final of this tournament, and there's a decent chance they'll win it.

In this piece I concentrate on the matter of how you prepare people for extreme high pressure situations. This has also, I assert, been what the England coach, Clive Woodward, has also been concentrating on.

The central claim I make is: that you can perfect anything you can practise. Discuss. Here or there, I guess.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:02 PM
Category: This and that

No, you have to have talent as well. I've been practicing blogging for nearly two years and I'm still crap. If you got the talent, on the other hand, well, all things are possible

Comment by: Scott Wickstein on November 18, 2003 01:44 PM

Not sure if you know about this website: http://www.akksess.com/

It seems to have taken your layout and inserted some news filter in the place of the normal blog. At least that's how it seems.

Comment by: Tim on November 18, 2003 01:45 PM

It didn't matter how much I practiced, I was never going to play cricket for Australia. So yes, I agree with Scott. (I don't think he is crap at blogging, however). It isn't just talent, though. Attitude and perserverence are needed as well.

Comment by: Michael Jennings on November 18, 2003 03:06 PM

Well, okay, but isn't there another way of looking at this? If you have no talent or insufficient talent, then surely what this means is that you are only able to practise doing it badly, so you only ever do it badly.

What I had in mind was: if you can do it RIGHT, even occasionally, then practising it may enable you to do it right much more often. Practising is what turns the occasional fluke into a regular habit. But without those first flukes, your body/mind has nothing to work with, nothing to aim at, even subconsciously.

Maybe, there's another thing that needs to be included here, which is having a means of measuring how well you are doing. Stopwatches for athletics type athletes are the classic example of this, but I'm sure the Rugby teachers have their own numbers games that they can play on their players, like number of unforced errors, number of successful pass receptions, number of good passes, number of misses tackles, and so on. Video makes it massively more possible to concoct such scores meaningfully.

That, in a nutshell, is one of the arguments in favour of educational testing.

Clearly, in a competitive situation, where everyone is practising like hell, talent is an important variable, which weeds out lots of people before the pracising seriously begins.

I agree about Scott being good at blogging, and blog-mastering too, if Ubersportingpundit is anything to go by which it is.

Anyway, thanks for the interest.

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on November 18, 2003 03:28 PM


Yes I do know about this site, and I am finding it intensely bothersome. I'm getting polite but clearly very concerned/angry emails from people whose "control panels" have been bust into, because although (because) THEY are using a copy of my blog, I AM STILL THE ONE GETTING THE EMAILS COMPLAINING ABOUT WHAT IT IS DOING. Very bad.

Any help gratefully received. I will probably do a posting here about this. And maybe even one on Samizdata.

My current guess is its hackers having what they think of as a laugh. Personally, if I knew who they were, I'm then be in the mood to take out a contract on them. And I very much suspect that me feeling that way is all part of the fun they are having.

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on November 18, 2003 03:31 PM

Brian: What is "Samizdata"?

The reason I am particularly interested in that site is that it's one of many. There's http://mikesspot.com, http://a-b-l-o-g.com/, http://teoras.com/, http://www.bongohome.com/, http://www.saulem.com/, and probably many more out there that I haven't found yet. They all seem to have taken other peoples' templates and inserted a news filter in place of the regular weblog. I became aware of it when I noticed that at one point (at one point... they have stopped now), each of those websites was linking to me.

The whole things is quite bizarre, and I honestly don't understand why people are doing it. The domain and hosting must be costing them at least a small amount of money, yet there's seemingly no way that they're making money off those websites (with money typically being the reason for most of these types on things on the internet). Perhaps their aim is just to confuse everyone? :)

Comment by: Tim on November 19, 2003 01:46 AM


Sorry. "Samizdata" is www.samizdata.net/blog It's the much-higher-traffi- than-this, group blog that I write for. If I did a piece about this mess there, a lot of new people would find out about it all, and many of them are very bright.

But, the people who run Samizdata are now fully aware of the situation.

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on November 19, 2003 02:07 AM

Meanwhile, back on topic...

I believe that if you have a reasonable amount of natural talent you can do reasonably well (e.g. local club level rugby, or SNL perhaps in my sport which is Ice Hockey) if you are young and fit and prepared to work bloody hard. You need about ten thousand hours of practice - and I mean that literally, as a total over your active lifetime, to function well at that sort of level. Think about what 10K hours means in terms of per week over so many years...it's a substantial committment, but that is what it takes.

Only the exceptional will be world-class. They need the 10K hours too. And something more:

Anyone who wants to win a tournament, never mind a world cup, needs to WANT to. Competitiveness and sheer dogged determination are essential. I have lost count of the number of junior (hockey) teams I've watched who have the talent, put in the work, and then on the day just lose it, because the other side never let up and never give them a break. That's determination. Relax and you're a goner.

All those elements have to be in place.

There is a chance that they ARE all in place for this England Rugby Team - here's hoping.

But before that, can Scotland's footballers beat Holland again? (Groans of foreboding all round)

And remember - "Second is the first of the Losers".

Comment by: Andrew Duffin on November 19, 2003 03:53 PM

Ok I need to do a thoughtful Ubersportingpundit post on this.

Comment by: Scott Wickstein on November 20, 2003 03:53 PM

I did a search for talk about sports as I am looking for information on where Halifax Mooseheads players lived and the history about them and their culture. We have and have had hockey players from all over the world play with the local hockey team here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I am researching anyone who has played in the past and the present for the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team. As I was web surfing, going from one topic to the next I came upon your website as I was looking for hockey blogs, as I thought about creating a blog on the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team. Anyways I read your blog to see if you had any information on how to operate a blog.
I will be back to see if you added anything new that might help me.
Good luck with your website.
Take care and God Bless
Steve ,A Halifax Mooseheads Hockey Fan

Comment by: Halifax Mooseheads on February 8, 2004 01:24 AM
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