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The Talent Code: Deep Practice Rule #2

Ready to hack skill acquisition!
I have previously written about Rule #1 (Chunk it up)….if you missed it you can read the blog post here

Rule #2 is simply: Repeat it!

This seems basic but the science backs it up big time:

“There is, biologically speaking, no substitute for attentive repetition. Nothing you can do – talking, thinking, reading, imagining – is more effective in building skill than executing the action, firing the impulse down the nerve fiber, fixing errors, honing the circuit.”Daniel Coyle

I know what your thinking:

“Yeah duh! We all know that the action must be performed, that is what we do everyday at practice!”

However, the crucial part of this is that the action is performed with a high level of focus. The athlete must be in that “sweet spot” where they are engaged in the type of deep practice that we went over yesterday.

Again: “execute the action, fire the impulse down the nerve fiber, fix errors, hone the circuit.”

Then Repeat: “execute the action, fire the impulse down the nerve fiber, fix errors, hone the circuit.”

And Again: Perform the action. Fix mistakes. Refine the Skill. Over and over and over…

As a coach an example of the process looks like this:

  • Have your athlete practice the fielding position (triangle drill)
  • Assess the technique
  • Make corrections
  • Have them repeat the fielding position with specific adjustments in mind
  • Repeat

This focused and attentive repetition should be done with the part practice methods discussed in yesterdays newsletter and with the skill as a whole.

Remember the old adage quality over quantity.

For world-class skill acquisition this is an important idea to keep in mind. The skill must be repeated over and over, but do not let that create a situation in which you have your athletes doing reps simply to do reps. Don’t have them do reps just because I am saying you have to repeat the skill over and over and over.

Have them do reps only as long as those reps are occurring with the deep practice traits I have already outlined.

In Daniel Coyle’s book he points out that there are different amounts of time and repetitions that occur in all of the world’s talent hotbeds that he visited. What was apparent is that practicing 10 hours a day was not necessary. In fact, he states that most of the actual practice time in all of these hotbeds was “reasonably sane.”

It isn’t the overall time that is spent; it is about the level of attentiveness and engagement that occurs within the time.

Basically, once your athletes are no longer engaged in “deep practice” you are wasting not only their time, but also your time.

Coyle states: “Spending more time is effective—but only if you’re still in the sweet spot at he edge of your capabilities, attentively building and honing circuits.”Daniel Coyle

So when there is a departure from deep practice the return is greatly diminished.

In summation, repetition is king. However, work hard to communicate to your athletes the level of focus that they must have if meaningful results are expected.

It is constantly a struggle to get players to genuinely engage in practice, but using some of the methods reviewed in yesterday’s newsletter can help.

Additionally, intense focus is a habit that can be developed if coaches create and clearly communicate the expectation for it. Just like building skill, it doesn’t happen overnight. But, if the expectations are there and continually reinforced, players will develop the habit of engaging in deep practice.

This ties nicely into Rule # 3, which will be highlighted tomorrow.

As a coach it is up to you to create a practice environment that perpetuates deep practice. Then you must have the resolve to stick with it and get your players to repeat it over and over again.

Remember: “execute the action, fire the impulse down the nerve fiber, fix errors, hone the circuit.”Daniel Coyle

Committed to your success!

Please let us know your thoughts or if you have any questions. Love a comment below