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Deliberate Practice

Joy in Practice

If you feel you’d like to learn more about practice — no matter what your sport or area of interest — make sure you acquaint yourself with the book “The Art of Practicing” by Madeline Bruser.

It really concerns musical practice, but everyone can benefit from the insights. In one beautiful paragraph, Bruser relates the range of perspectives that people take to the same activity: practice.

She writes: “The word ‘practice’ conjures up a variety of potent images and feelings. For some, it arouses dread and memories of long hours spent confined in a small room with a book of finger exercises and a metronome. Such practicing feels more like a punishment than a musical experience. For others, practicing is an escape from painful aspects of life–perhaps the only activity in which they feel free to express themselves. For the fortunate few, practicing is an overflow of joy and vibrant curiosity from a healthy and fulfilling life. Many of us recognize a little of ourselves in all of these descriptions. But whatever our experience is, all of us can find practicing a constant challenge to our physical, mental and emotional capabilities.”

Beautiful. I will quibble with her in just one area; she mentions the fortunate few. That reminds me of the old paradigm about talent–the belief that talent is something you either have or you don’t. Same way with being one of the “fortunate few.” It’s not something you either are or are not. You can develop a sense of joy and wonder about practice. In fact, that’s where we as coaches come in. We have to motivate our athletes to find the beauty and opportunities in practice.


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