Mark Williams

076: Mark Williams on how the best learn to be better

This week’s guest is Professor Mark Williams who has spent his professional career understanding the neural and psychological aspects of acquiring skills and developing expertise. Mark has recently published a fascinating book called “The Best”. The subtitle of the book captures your attention though, “How elite athlete are made”. Now you might starting jumping to conclusions that the book tends towards the nurture side of nature vs nurture, but you’d be mistaken. Mark and his co-author Tim Wigmore weave a narrative from the social, economic, environmental and family factors that contribute to success. And in this discussion I explore many of these concepts but ask Mark given that we have a certain set of cards dealt to us, what can we do as athletes, coaches, parents and supporting members of the cast to enable others to succeed, enable others to grow especially during a disruptive pandemic.

Enjoy the pod.


Does Mark constantly analyse performance and expertise?

What is expertise?

Sibling advantage

Maintaining an optimal learning environment in lockdown

Using time in lockdown wisely to hone our weaknesses

The differences between performance and learning, variations in briefing levels of challenge and reflection

Helicopter parenting

How to enable athletes to live a life well outside of sport

Personal effectiveness and developing successful teams

The joint curation of group rules, norms and behaviours, enables the agreed consequences of breaking the group agreements


Take a look at Mark’s new book, ‘The best; How elite athletes are made’.

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Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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