Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Practice Alone

Solo practice works because it's the best way to 1) seek out the sweet spot at the edge of your ability, and 2) develop discipline, because it doesn't depend on others! A classic study of musicians compared World-Class performers with top amateurs. The researchers found the two groups were similar in every practice variable except one: The world-class performers spent five times  as many hours practicing alone.

As the North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance said, "The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching."

Think In Images

Which of the following instructions are easier to remember?

* Trap the soccer ball gently.
*Let the ball kiss your foot.

* Touch the strings as lightly as possible.
*Touch the strings as if they were burning hot.

* Take the tennis racket back in a straight horizontal line.
*Take the tennis racket back as if you were sweeping dishes off a coffee table.

*Sing the phrase more quietly at the end.
* Sing the phrase like a balloon runing out of air.

The images are far easier to grasp, recall, and perform. This is because your brain spent millions of years evolving to register images more vividly and Memorably than abstract ideas. (after all, in prehistoric days, no one ever had to worry about getting eaten by a hungry idea. But they did have to worry about lions.)

Whenever possible, create a vivid image for each chunk you want to learn. The images don't have to be elaborate, just easy to see and feel.

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