There is a real difference between practice and deliberate practice. With over 30 years of experience working with athletes, the difference between those practicing with a real purpose versus those just practicing is really obvious. It is deliberate practice that will really help you maximise your potential. Many have heard the 10,000 hour rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell’s Book, Outliers, but that is not enough. Plenty of athletes the world over have put in more than 10,000 hours of practice, but by itself it’s not enough. Sheer volume alone does not win. Your practices must be Deliberate Practices and constantly stretching yourself and improving your skills – not just going through the motions. The difference between ordinary and Extraordinary is deliberate practice!
Here are some great tips to help you Deliberately Practice.
1 Pre-performance preparation is essential.
Set clear and detailed goals.
Goals should be focussed on the process and the system you put in place to get there, not just the outcome.
For athletes, there are a lot more than just technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects. Musculoskeletal screening, nutritional analysis, environment assessments, medical reviews and even your own personal goals, need to be evaluated and then action plans devised.
2 Reflect after every practice session too.
Stay focused on your own performance and stay focussed on correcting and adapting. What could you have done better? What still needs to be worked on? What can I do differently next practice to be better?
3 To achieve mastery, our brain needs time to develop.
Take things slowly and really embed the skills. Rome was not built in a day!
4 Maximise practice time.
Be super organised and planned to maximise the time you have.
5 Keep things simple. Break things down
It is natural to want to improve everything at once. However our brain struggles to mulittask and it’s much easier to work on one thing. When top performers practice, they break down their skill into sharply defined elements. After breaking down a skill into parts, a top performer will work intently on the element they need to improve most. During the entire practice, they focus solely on that one aspect.
6 Track your small improvements.
Track the little improvements whether they be in hundredths of a second, or milligrams for example. The faster you see progress, the more you feel motivated to continue.
7 Continuous Feedback is critical to success.
A great coach or teacher will pay close attention to everything you do and provide a ton of feedback, acknowledging your improvements and all your efforts too, as well as noting mistakes too. Feedback is your rocket fuel that propels your learning and without it no amount of practice will get you there.
8 A great coach will make you think too so you can continually learn.
You should not be mindlessly making corrections. A great coach will ask questions to make you think about your mistakes and thus learn for yourself, how to correct them.
9 Repetition is one of the keys to success too.
Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong
It is not practice but repetition of the correct skills that is important.
10 It is hard work and Intensity to be great!
The ability and willingness to slog through focused repetitions and repeating the same thing over and over again is what separates great men from the mediocre. If it was easy, then everybody would do it. The same goes with deliberate practice. If it were fun and easy, then everyone would do it and be great at whatever they tried. But deliberate practice isn’t fun, which is why we live in a world with only a few great men and hundreds of millions of men who simply wish they could be great. it is not about the length of time you do it or practice. it is about the quality of what you are doing.
11 Routine is Everything.
The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. Stay focused and determined and stick to your routines. Winners have one thing in common. They do the same thing over and over again. Usually the better the athlete, the more specific and structured their routines. Make great routines into habits and they will make you Extraordinary.
12 Keep pushing yourself.
Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his current abilities. It commands near maximal effort, which is generally not enjoyable.
World class performers are always stretching themselves. They are always falling over and getting up again; making mistakes and learning even more; and never giving in. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.
13 Visualise Daily.
Winners see what they want to happen. Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time, visualised every single day sometimes for up to two hours. It is what you focus on that is important. Winners have very clear pictures and feelings of themselves executing skills perfectly. On the other hand, losers see what they fear might happen and actually imagine ineffective results. As you imagine yourself performing a skill, you are creating a muscle memory of how to perform the skill which greatly accelerates the achievement by activating the creative powers of your subconscious mind. Research has shown that when we perform any task in real life, the brain uses the same identical process it would if you were vividly visualising that activity. The brain thus sees no difference between visualising something and actually doing it. Dream in perfect detail. It is the secret of all great champions and leaders.
14 Deliberate practice is demanding!
Following a plan, responding to feedback, and pushing oneself is cognitively demanding and physically tiring. Most people can’t last more than few hours at a time. When you’re practicing deliberately, you’re focusing and concentrating so much on your performance that you’re mentally exhausted after your practice session. Deliberate practice is so demanding mentally that studies show that four or five hours a day is the upper limit of deliberate practice, and this is frequently accomplished in sessions lasting no longer than an hour to ninety minutes.
15 All great athletes and leaders have coaches.
How do top performers like Serena Williams, Hugh Jackman or Tony Robbins achieve their extraordinary results? Like achievers all over the world, from every walk of life, sport, music, entertainment, business, CEO’s, coaches – they know coaches are the catalyst who help you to go beyond yourself and constantly strive towards your full potential.
This list is by no means complete as so many factors go into making a Champion.
Deliberate practice will make the difference between ordinary and Extraordinary.
BE Extraordinary and have a deliberately great week!