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Difficult training improves team performance: an empirical case study of US college basketball

Kappes, Heather Barry ORCID: 0000-0002-6335-3888, Alter, Adam L, Edwards, Griffin S and Berri, David J (2019) Difficult training improves team performance: an empirical case study of US college basketball. Behavioural Public Policy. ISSN 2398-063X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/bpp.2019.22


One major challenge facing policymakers is to design education and workplace training programs that are appropriately challenging. We review previous research which suggests that difficult training is better than easy training. However, surveys we conducted of students and of expert sport coaches showed that many prescribed easy rather than difficult training for those they coached. We analyzed the performance of NCAA basketball teams in postseason tournaments to see whether the existing research, largely on individuals in short-term situations, would generalize to teams in the long run. Indeed, playing difficult nonconference (training) games modestly improved performance for NCAA teams in the postseason. Difficult training particularly benefitted teams that lost many nonconference games, and the effect of difficulty was positive within the range of difficulty NCAA teams actually encounter, making it clear that difficult training is superior. We suggest that our results can be generalized beyond sports, although with careful consideration of differences between NCAA basketball teams and other teams that may limit generalizability. These results suggest that policymakers might consider amplifying the difficulty of team training exercises under certain conditions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2019 12:36
Last Modified: 30 May 2024 03:42

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