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Deliberate Practice

Developing Practice Focus

If you were in the gym and someone asked you, “What are you working on?” what would you say?

Perhaps you would reply, “I’m just trying to get better.”

That answer, of course, if not good enough. To really improve at something, you must have a specific focus.

This idea comes to mind as I read “The Game Before the Game — The Perfect 30-Minute Practice” by Lynn Mariott and Pia Nilsson.

The authors speak about what they call “maintenance practice,” the kind designed to “keep your swing and your game performing efficiently.”

Even in this mode, a great golfer works on something specific. Perhaps it’s tempo or balance or distance control. If you’re not working on something specific, the authors say, “you’re just hitting balls.”

This applies to all sports, of course. The great basketball players have something in mind when shooting around. Maybe they concentrate on taking a bounce pass and bringing the ball to shooting position. Maybe they’re working on three-pointers under time pressure.

Remember, if you’re working on nothing in particular, you’ll get better at nothing in particular. And if you’re working on everything, you’re really working on nothing.

When you begin practice, have a very specific idea of what you’re working on.

More on this kind of specific practice tomorrow.


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