Deliberate Practice: How to Do It and Mistakes to Avoid

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Imagine if you could captivate audiences with your impressive talents. It’s possible with the help of deliberate practice. You might think, “Eh, practice! I’ve tried that, and I didn’t learn anything.”

That might be because you didn’t practice effectively.

Mastering a skill can be grueling work. Common ways of practicing can feel discouraging, especially if you’ve practiced for years and still don’t feel you’re at the level you should be!

Traditional methods of practice can eventually stall your progress. Your skill level plateaus regardless of if you continue practicing. You’ll be forever mediocre.

Deliberate practice can be the difference between being decent and being phenomenally talented.

You won’t need to spend 10,000 hours honing your craft. That theory is now a busted myth thanks to deliberate practice!

Don’t worry; this article has you covered!

What’s wrong with traditional practice?

The old way of practicing is inefficient and sometimes detrimental to building new skills. Often it entrenched bad habits when people ignore their mistakes during practice.

Furthermore, the constant disappointment can kill your confidence. Your skill-level will vary wildly, so you won’t know if you’ll be able to perform well.

Also, traditional practicing methods can be horribly monotonous. Drudging along with the same uninspiring routine is mind-numbing.

Therefore, save yourself the headache and toss traditional practice out the window! Don’t waste your time!

Now we’ve established what to avoid, let’s move on to how to use deliberate practice!

How to use deliberate practice to catapult your talents:

1. You need a detailed, motivating goal for deliberate practice

“Start today by imagining the life you want and taking one practice step towards it.”

— Denise Duffield Thomas

Deliberate practice is all about learning small, achievable sets of skills. So, first, you need to choose a specific goal to practice. Then chunk it down into subskills.

Each skill should be specific because you won’t feel motivated to achieve something like “Get better at _ _ _ _ _.” It’s too vague.

For instance, to advance your painting skills to the next level, break them down into categories like color theory, perspective, drawing, and composition.

Then rehearse the subskills you struggle with the most.

3. Define and move past your obstacles

“Only through practice and more practice, until you can do something without conscious effort.” — Joe Hyams

In deliberate practice, you focus on strengthening your weaknesses. Dedicate a notebook to your practicing sessions. Write down what you need to work on and how much you progressed each day. It’s best to use tiny measurements so you can see even slight enhancements.

At some point, you might reach a seemingly impossible roadblock that you can’t seem to conquer.

While you’re practicing and you something keeps tripping you up, write it down in your notebook. Then work on improving that, and eventually, you’ll break through it.

Photo by Facundo Aranda on Unsplash
Photo by Facundo Aranda on Unsplash

If you can’t seem to overcome an obstacle, try these steps:

1.   Explain the issue. What’s causing the problem? What do I want the result to be instead?

2.   How many ways could I fix this? (Try doing it differently or in a unique environment.)

3.   Attempt the solutions and use the best one for your deliberate practice sessions. Sometimes switching things up is all you needed to break through a barrier.

2.  Deliberate practice in slow-motion with laser-like focus

guy using deliberate practice to learn guitar.

It’s common for people to want to practice quickly, but this leads to adopting sloppy habits. The worst thing you can do is teach yourself scattered, inaccurate skills. Then you’ll spend even more time and effort trying to fix more problems.

Deliberate practice is unhurried and methodical.

So, train slowly with full precision, not speed. Momentum will show up after you develop accuracy.

In this step, you’re building “muscle memory,” thus teaching your subconscious how to do it. After that, you don’t have to try so hard because it’ll get entrenched in your brain.

To teach your unconscious mind to do something, you must use repetition.

Have you ever seen a musician playing a technical solo, but it looks like they’re checked out mentally? That’s because they are! Their subconscious has taken over the solo’s intricacies, and they’re just along for the ride.

Limit each session to around 10 to 45 minutes long, so you’ll keep laser-focused. Eliminate any distractions during this time.

Keep reducing your speed until you do it correctly. Then you can go faster. Frequent slow-motion bursts of practice will catapult your capabilities. Once the subconscious takes over, it’s smooth sailing!

4. Deliberate practice pushes you out of your comfort zone

Practice painting.

Typically, people practice the areas that they already know how to do. For instance, someone who wants to become a guitarist continues to play simple riffs they made up instead of learning chords or new songs.

Practice at your max skill level. So, don’t do the simple parts and avoiding the strenuous, problematic areas. To reach the high-performance level, you must challenge yourself. Therefore, you must escape from your comfort zone.

Otherwise, if you keep repeating the same mistakes, you could practice for decades and never make progress.

Research shows that once you believe that you’re skilled enough, your development ends. Then, you’re stuck until you dare yourself to try something new and challenging. More traditional practice won’t help.

Always try to reach past the edge of your capability. If you’re stuck, keep breaking it down and go slower until you get it.

5.  Learn from the masters

austin distel xz g nmHs unsplash

Some people have already mastered your desired goal, so why not follow what they did? Study their techniques online and observe their every move.

Moreover, there are a ton of online courses taught by experts. They’ll know what you should fine-tune and where you’re excelling. It’s crucial to get feedback, so you know how well (or not so well) you’re doing.

However, don’t choose a teacher who only tells you how great you’re doing, even if you’re not improving. Instead, find someone who’ll give you the cold, hard truth. It’s not personal; it’s necessary to find out what you need to focus on during practice sessions.

Or you can do a self-assessment to discover what needs work. Film or record your practice sessions and analyze them. Make a note of any issues or improvements you notice. Being able to observe yourself doing the activity is essential for you to catch any potential issues. Then you can correct them before they become a habit.

martial arts and deliberate practice

In short, deliberate practice is the key to developing your prowess and mastery. With time, attention, and persistence, you can become especially skilled at anything you choose!

So remember:

  • Choose a specific goal for each practice session.
  • Break them down into subskills and practice till you get the hang of them.
  • Practice your major weaknesses slowly and in short increments of time. Or however long you can focus on it.
  • Write what needs work and what has improved.
  • Keep pushing yourself beyond your capabilities, but not so far that it frustrates you.

Over time, deliberate practice can turn you into a pro!

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