Deliberate practice strategy

Does your devotion as an athlete pass the stickiness test? This involves how engaged you remain through the ups and downs. It’s your ability to stick with what’s happening in the here and now instead of allowing unnecessary thoughts to interrupt your focus. Deliberate practice is a method to minimize distractions.

Athletes struggle with mistakes, losses and errors. Holding onto a mistake can be the primary reason you didn’t play to your capabilities. Whether it be a loss, a bad practice, or a skill that you seem unable to master, it is important that, as an athlete, you rise above these feelings of failure.

Excel beyond your current abilities

Allowing those negative experiences to stick in your memory for any length of time is costly. Eventually it’ll decrease your ability and motivation.  You’ve worked too hard to give in so easily. Instead of dwelling on the mistake or loss, let’s turn it around by using these moments to your advantage.

Your practice time is the ideal time and place to turn obstacles into your competitive advantage. Train to stretch beyond your current abilities. Here’s where you want to be checked in instead of checked out. Prepare to get uncomfortable instead of just choosing the easy, fun stuff.

Dismiss the 10,000 rule

Deliberate practice has received tons of good and bad press. I’m not concerned about the 10,000 rule. Anyone can put in the hours. Time spent training is not a guarantee that you’ll win. Training quality, not quantity, differentiates the elite athletes from the rest of the pack.

Instead of letting bad experiences get to you, establish a routine to help you bust through those obstacles. Deliberate practice can help get you out of your “rut” because it establishes a structure to build your confidence and capabilities, even when you choose to master a single skill like throwing 100 free throws every day!

What is Deliberate Practice?

Deliberate practice emphasizes motivation, presence, challenge, and, surprisingly enough, repetition. You’ll experience performance gains by following highly structured specific activities. This method sets you up for long term gains by practicing relevant training activities designed to advance your skills.

Deliberate Practice FRAME in 5 steps:

  1. Feedback. Deliberate practice emphasizes detail and mistakes. When a mistake happens, you’ll want to stop, acknowledge the mistake without judgment or criticism, figure out how to correct that move, visualize the correct move and then re-do using the correct move.
  2. Repetition. Emphasize specific skills for a competitive edge by building upon your pre-existing knowledge. Remember its quality instead of quantity.
  3. Approach. Elite athletes aren’t settling for good enough. Pushing beyond your comfort zone teaches you mental toughness and how to manage staying focused under pressure.
  4. Motivation.  Elite athletes train hard. You’ve got to be hungry to win if you’re seeking to stand out from the pack.
  5. Effort. Endurance and perseverance leads to mastery. Develop a consistent training schedule which emphasizes skill building.

Why Utilize Deliberate Practice?

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Deliberate Practice helps athletes become competition ready. photo credit: throw.to.first via photopin (license)

Instead of “normal” or “regular” practice, deliberate practice focuses primarily on the seemingly miniscule aspects of your sport.  Additionally, though the milestones you set may seem strange, for example, making 100 free-throws, the consistency of the repetition helps you improve.

Many athletes simply believe that practice is practice. Don’t buy into that philosophy. Choose to optimize your training time for efficiency to achieve better long results in the long run.

Working and mastering miniscule abilities will boost your confidence. When you work on becoming an expert in all aspects of your sport, even the seemingly boring or unimportant parts, you gain a deep level of understanding and confidence. 

The Importance of Concentration

Concentration is the key. Decide what specific areas you’re seeking to improve. Plan which specific actions, like throwing 100 free-throws every day, will be a game-changer for you.  Accept the fact that sometimes it’ll be monotonous. Although it’s easy to check out when you’re doing repetitions, you’ll see the most gains when you continuously make small adjustments during your drills.

Challenge: If you want to see marked improvement in your abilities, deliberate practice is worth your consideration. You do not necessarily need a coach or a trainer, though one would help. The only thing you need to get started is dedication and well defined outcomes. Shooting 100 free throws is a great choice, but you’ll get the best results when you count how many of those free throws you miss or sink.

Mistakes will happen. Instead of pushing through, stop and then imagine the correct move. This way as you’re breaking down sequential steps into even smaller segments, you’re fine tuning each individual move in the sequence. When those individual moves get linked, they improve your entire routine.

Deliberate practice requires constant and consistent attention, dedication, and hard work. This is never a passive way of practicing. Deliberate practice, many argue, is what positions you as an elite athlete.

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