Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pre Season Prep-Ten

December 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Pick My Brain

Deliberate Practice:

How would you like to be in complete control of your athletic accomplishments? Maybe not your placement, but your basic ability to master a high level of athletic performance? What if you knew that your genes, body composition, or natural talent had relatively little effect on your ability to obtain athletic success? Of course talent and natural abilities are factors that contribute to making star athletes, but recent research has found that raw talent is not the most influential element in determining who will become a superstar sports hero.

Actually, the way an athlete practices has a greater effect on the course of their sports career. By applying deliberate practice-athletes of mediocre talent can surpass the most naturally talented performers in all fields. Deliberate practice is practicing with the intention of improving overall performance beyond basic competence while receiving both internal and external feedback. It sounds pretty easy right? At first it might sound like the common mantra “practice makes perfect”. In reality, deliberate practice is quite different. If practice makes perfect truly worked we would see many more great athletes, find many more success stories. But to be a champion or just your very best for that matter, it takes so much more than just coming to the rink everyday and doing your routine over and over. Coaches constantly tell their skaters to practice, practice, practice. But practicing is a lot harder than it looks, especially if you are practicing correctly or deliberately.

It’s a proven fact that athletes, performers, and businessmen that engage in deliberate practice out perform their competition. So now that you now that stellar athleticism is an acquired skill through hours of work, I bet you’re wondering how you can engage in deliberate practice yourself. Well, with just a few deliberate steps you can be on your way to becoming more successful in the endeavor of your choosing.

There are three phases associated with deliberate practice- before the work, during the work, and after the work. Each phase is linked to a specific goal. In addition, there are four steps used to achieve deliberate practice.

1.)                          Before the work you must analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Your goal should be to perfect your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Once you identify what needs to be worked on, think about how you want to work on it. Ask yourself, how can I make this element better? Once you identify what needs to be worked on and how you’re going to go about it, you are ready to move onto step two.

2.)                          Begin the practice. Pick one element that needs work and repeat until improvement has occurred. This does not mean do 100 double axels and assume you will get better. You have to feel your way through each part of the jump, know where your body is on every take-off and landing, know what you thought and how you did the jump when you land it correctly. Try not to let yourself get away with making small mistakes and saying “oh, its okay. Next time it will be better.” Set a goal to do ten swings the correct way. If you mess up, start over.

3.)                          Repetition. You need to repeat the correct technique many times in order to file the movement away in muscle memory. Do so deliberately, practicing each move correctly over and over. The point of this exercise is not the wear yourself out from doing things hundreds of times. A few times will suffice as long as each repetition is exactly the same as the one before.

4.)                           Feedback. In order for deliberate practice to work you need to know that what you are practicing is correct. This feedback typically comes from a coach, but can also come from teammates if you ask for their help. Outside feedback is necessary, but the feedback you give yourself is the most important. Feedback can occur both during and after the work. During the work self-observation allows you to feel and know what you are doing and see how it’s working for you. Only you can really know if that golf swing feels just right and you passed the ball exactly the way you wanted to. By being able to self-regulate you have more control over your practice and performance than ever before.

Deliberate practice is a sure way to enhance your athletic performance. It is both physically and mentally demanding. Physically you have to able to produce the correct movement time and time again. Mentally you have to be able to know what that feels like. More importantly, you must be able to focus and stay in the present moment during deliberate practice. You have to be 100% into what you are doing. That means you’re in the zone, in the present moment working to achieve a certain goal. You’re not always going to have fun working this way- but you won’t be miserable either. It’s more like being in a focused state in which you hone in on specific aspects of an element and perfect them. However, if you the love the sport hours of deliberate practice can seem like minutes if you can stay in the present moment.

 Deliberate practice is tried and true. Not everyone that wins is the most talented player. Top athletes know their strengths and weaknesses, know how to improve those weaknesses, receive feedback, and are able to deliberately practice each element until they have mastery over it. The next time someone tells you that you just aren’t talented enough to make it, show them what you can achieve through deliberate practice.

Interested in this topic? Try reading Why Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin or Outliers, the Story of Success  written by Malcolm Gladwell,

By: nhouse

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