How you practice
They say that practice makes perfect, but we have come to realise that the more realistic way to say it is that practice makes progress as perfection is a destination that keeps moving further away the closer we get to it.
In the field of performance coaching it has been identified that even though practice is better than no practice at all, how you practice is actually more significant. It is possible to keep practicing and not improve. I know this first hand as I play the guitar, and I noticed that when I learned to play, my skills plateaued after a couple of years and never improved no matter how much I played or practiced. I then abandoned playing regularly for a very long period.
So how should we practice to bring about an improvement? Well, there are a few tips on how to do this.
1. Learn from the best – find the very best in the field you are trying to improve and learn what they do. This is where coaching and mentoring come in.
2. Learn the basics – ensure that you understand the basic principles of what you are doing.
3. Do a little bit more than you are comfortable with – for example, if you can do 10 push ups comfortably, aim to do 12 or 15 until it becomes comfortable, and then up it again.
4. Have a goal for improvement – what exactly do you want to improve? Do you want to run faster? Then how fast do you want to run, and by when do you want to achieve it?
5. Get feedback – this is such a crucial point as it highlights what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and points out where you need to improve.
I recently started using these principles with my guitar practice sessions and within 30 days of practice, I was able to master a number of skills that I just could not crack in the previous years of playing.
So, before you lose heart on how much you have practiced and it didn’t seem to have worked, please try and be more deliberate about your practice and apply some of the principles above.