Virtus Daily Blog #44 - Deliberate Practice

Do you ever feel like you are running and running and getting nowhere? Feel like you are continuously lifting the same weights and not getting stronger? The answer is deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is a type of training that follows a strict procedure. We see the process broken into parts to identify weaknesses. Strategies are then to make these parts better leading to (hopefully) an improved performance.

We can look at deliberate practice as the same as repetition, yet, the main difference is feedback. Without feedback, we are sub-consciously repeating the same movement and the brain makes these movements automatic, leading to little improvement and a lot of frustration. We may think we are getting better but really all we are doing is reinforcing habits and gaining experience instead of improving performance. Coaches feedback allows us to test new strategies and fine-tune techniques.

When I typed in ‘Roger Federer Training Schedule’ the first thing that I saw was a ‘well rounded tennis specific’ exercise regime. The exercises included are all structured to help improve tennis performance through deliberate practice. With banded exercises, Federer can improve his muscle strength as when practising his strokes after the use of the bands he can feel lighter and improve his movement patterns. We can take this theory and implement it into daily life activities and modify it to any sport. Resistance bands can be used during our warmups to activate glute muscles or train our brains and bodies to move different ways. For example, we can put a band around our knees while deadlifting to help cue the body to not cave in at the knees when lifting.

Deliberate practice demands high levels of our concentration on the task, this is how Federer became one of the greats. All we need is 1 hour every 3-5 days a week and include very specific and structured content throughout the session. A good rule to follow is quality over quantity.

This may seem easy but it can be especially hard when we are not seeing mid-term results. With a lot of things (eg. losing weight) we will see significant improvements in the first 2, 3 and 4 weeks then results start to decrease along with motivation. When engaging in deliberate practice we need to keep this concept in mind and remember the overall goal is to improve performance, even by a little each time. This is key to remaining focused during sessions and motivated throughout the entire program.

4 steps to practicing deliberate practice

1. Set goals

- Clear, small and achievable so you still see improvement during the program.

2. Be consistent

- Maintain 3-5 sessions per week otherwise, long-term success will never come and you will be stuck in the same vicious cycle, wasting your own time.

3. Track and measure

- Keep track of your progress and reassess goals if needed.

4. Recharge

-  Mental effort is hard work, so, you need to make sure you rest after each session. Your body and mind need time to recover so information can be processed ready for the next practice.

Next time you feel like you have a hit a wall or you think you have mastered a skill to the best of your ability, pull it apart, practice it, put it back together and watch the magic of deliberate practice take place.

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Zoe ZeuschnerComment