“Deliberate practice” is a key concept in the field of sports psychology and performance improvement. It refers to the kind of practice that allows people to not just learn from their mistakes but to set specific goals and strive for those goals throughout their practice. Follow these steps to see how deliberate practice can help you excel at virtually any area of your life.
What is deliberate practice?
A great way to understand this type of practice is to know what it’s not. Deliberate practice is not extended unschooled practice. Nor is it ‘just doing it’.
It’s not about mindless repetition, working harder than your competition, or grinding away at a task that doesn’t challenge you anymore.
Instead, it’s as the name suggests: you practice the violin or play tennis or become a champion chess player by consciously working on a goal with the intention to scale challenges and reach a high level of expertise.
The concept of deliberate practice was studied by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. And it was Malcolm Gladwell who referred to their work and stated that ‘it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something.’
However, the original researchers of this concept would disagree – mindless practice isn’t enough. You also need to intentionally work on your art or skill.
Let’s move on and learn about the different steps you need to take to practice deliberately and look at some examples too.
How to apply deliberate practice in your daily life
You might think that it’s enough to be more focused on a task at hand to carry out deliberate practice – but that isn’t the case.
Let’s look at what goes into deliberate practice so that you can use it to achieve any goal.
Put in the hours
If there’s one thing that’s clear, if you want to become an expert at something – whether it’s in writing or athletics or anything else – you need to practice for thousands of hours.
While most people believe that some people are born with genius, they fail to recognize that all geniuses still need to work to show results. Whether it’s Mozart or Michael Jordan, peak talent appears after thousands of hours of deliberate practice.
This means that if you want to be great at coding, write amazing books, or be a strong business leader, you need to keep trying and do it for a long time.
Another key aspect of deliberate practice is working on something that makes you uncomfortable. That is, you have to ‘level up’ by doing more and more difficult things in the skill you want to build.
There’s a reason why most people who have cooked for years and thousands of hours aren’t three-hat chefs. Most people build basic cooking skills, develop a routine, and then continue to cook the same dishes for the rest of their lives. They aren’t challenging themselves or taking on difficult cooking tasks.
If you want to be an expert at food and cooking, then you need to work at it for a long time and work on techniques that make you uncomfortable. By trying new cuisines, new cooking methods, and combining foods in interesting ways, you are on the way to expertise.
The principle of embracing difficult challenges to grow your skills applies in every area. Whether you want to be a great marketer, a writer, or anything else, you need to seek obstacles and overcome them.
There’s no point in working on something without gathering data and tracking if you’re going in the right direction.
People who are experts at something usually get feedback as they work on their skills. Great musical artists get training from their instructors. Athletes get feedback from their coaches. And business leaders improve through mentorship.
When learning a new skill, make sure that you get feedback to help you improve. You could join a community, get personal training, or discuss your growth in a forum. By getting feedback, you’ll grow faster since you’ll pick up on any mistakes you make and correct them.
You’ll also identify your strengths and work on them to meet your potential.
The great reason why deliberate practice matters is that it opens up your entire world to you.
To become excellent at anything requires focused attention and tremendous practice. It’s just not enough to have talent.
In this post, I’ve laid out the main principles of deliberate practice. Leverage these tips and take the time to hone your skills. As time passes, you’ll notice that you’re improving. And eventually, you’ll become an expert at your work.