Have you ever wondered how some players could “practice” for years but not improve certain skills? For example, all basketball teams practice shooting. So how is it possible that a player could shoot tens of thousands of shots each year yet not become better? Understanding how to practice and develop a skill is a skill in and of itself. Despite the fact that athletes practice all the time, most are not taught how to practice for effective skill development.
When most players think about practicing a skill, it probably goes something like this…
We have all heard the term “practice makes perfect”, but we know that isn’t necessarily true.
Research suggests that the most effective way to develop a skill is deliberate practice…which most of us do NOT do. Our general understanding of practice must change if we are going to develop a skill in the most effective and efficient way possible. To help us understand, it’s best if we differentiate the concepts of practice vs deliberate practice.
As mentioned in the scenario above, most athletes simply “practice” a skill. Doing many of the same drills for years by the time they reach high school or college, it’s easy for them to practice without any conscious thought. This type of practice is characterized by the following:
On the other hand, deliberate practice (DP) is characterized by the following elements:
If a basketball player wanted to implement the concept of DP into their development plan…here’s what I’d recommend:
Also, don’t worry about making X amount of shots when you begin practicing a micro-skill. Just master the mechanics first.
See if you can implement elements of deliberate practice into your routine so you can avoid “practicing” without improvement!