Does Practice Make Perfect?
You will learn that practice alone does not make perfect. The most effective way to improve a skill is through perfect practice. You will learn how the brain and central nervous system works to help you increase performance through practice.
You will understand that result is more important than hours, in every part of your life. Average performers focus on the task and hoping to get the result. Top performers focus on the result, and find the fastest way to achieve it. To learn more about how to achieve your goals and dreams quicker, read 5 Best Ways To Achieve Your Goals.
RESULT: You will perform better at work, in sports, in your relationships, and with money in a shorter time.
What Is Practice? – Definition
Practice is the repetition of an action to improve or maintain one’s ability.
The Science Of Practice: Brain Activity When Learning
Our brains and central nervous system (CNS) have two kinds of neural tissue:
1. Grey matter:
- Pinkish-grey in colour
- Holds all of the synapses
- Contains cell bodies, dendrites and neuron axon terminals
Basically grey matter processes information in the brain.
2. White matter:
- White in colour
- Mostly fatty tissues
- Transport nerve impulses from neuron to neuron
- Made up of myelinated axons which connect all the different parts of the grey matter
Basically white matter helps your brain get from point a to point b, then point c, and so on.
How Does Myelin Affect White Matter?
White matter is made up of axons which are wrapped by a fatty substance called myelin. This myelin sheath or myelin covering wraps around the white matter. Myelin basically affects the fibers inside of the white matter. It protects the fibers and allows helps you go from point a to point b faster and more efficiently.
Think of myelin like insulation on electrical cables. The insulation keeps in energy from electrical signals from the brain. When your brain sends out electrical signals, the insulation also prevents lose of energy.
How Does Practice Improve Performance?
The more you practice, the more this myelin sheath changes. Faster and more efficient neural pathways. You actually build more layers of this insulation. Over time you have thick strong insulation which creates faster and more efficient neural pathways. As a result, you can perform a task faster and with greater precision.
It is like a race track from your brain to the rest of your body and mind. To illustrate, your brain sends a signal to your muscles to move in a certain way to head in a soccer ball. This myelin helps send the signal faster and more efficiently. Basically you go from point a to e quickly, as opposed to a to b, then b to c, and so forth. Like a race car on a race track, you get from where you are to where you want to be in lightning speed.
Using an example from sports psychology, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo participated in a study called Tested To The Limit. A volunteer crossed him the ball, and turned off the lights one second after kicking the ball. Thanks to develop myelin, Ronaldo was still able to score. In the next trial, the volunteer turned the lights off even before kicking the ball, yet Ronaldo still scored.
A similar but not as accurate explanation people use is called “muscle memory”. Muscle memory explains that if you work out a muscle for a long time, then stop working it out for a while, you will get all the muscle back faster and more efficiently once you start working out again.
Muscles do not actually have memory. The ability to regain lost muscle quickly and efficiently is most likely thanks to myelin.
How Many Hours Does It Takes To Be An Expert?
Top performers, experts, and also athlete always promote practice. They look into the cameras and say “practice, practice, practice”. We also hear our teachers and parents say “if you work hard, you will be successful”.
In Dr. Ericsson’s Expert Performance, he states that people need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert. This concept is also known as the “10,000-Hour Rule”.
Years later, Malcolm Gladwell published a book called Outliers: The Story of Success. Like Ericsson, Gladwell also repeatedly promotes the “10,000-Hour Rule”.
Although these rules of thumb are a good place to start, they do not explain the full story to skill improvement.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
The truth is that practice in itself can only help performance to an extent. As the old saying goes: “it’s quality over quantity”. The quality and effectiveness of your practice plays a key role in improvement.
For example, if you bench press five pounds, you will build some strength and muscle, but it would take you like 10,000 hours. On the other hand, if you bench press 55 pounds, you will build even more strength and muscle in a much shorter time. This is called effective practice.
Effective practice is consistent and intensely focused. Steps and explanation to effectively practice:
- Focus on task at hand: put all your energy into the task. Multi-tasking does not help here.
- Use high emotion: how much does the task mean to you? People learn and remember information when they believe that it is very important to achieve their deepest needs and values. For example, if you do not care about math, you can read the page a hundred times and still not learn anything. On the contrary, when you read a letter that your lover wrote for you, you only need to read it once to remember most of it. The reason is because there was high emotion.
- Frequent repetition with breaks: keep your mind sharp by taking 10 minute breaks every 40-50 minutes
- Perform the task correctly slow & fast: Start your repetitions slowly to perform them correctly, then do them faster over time
Does Visualization To Rewire Your Brain Work In Sports?
Yes, visualization works in sports. The key here is that an athlete must visualize themselves perfectly succeeding over and over again. Even this mental exercise shows that it is not practice in itself that makes perfect, it is perfect practice which gives you results.
A famous study took 144 basketball players and divided them into two groups for two weeks.
- Group A: Physically practiced free throws
- Group B: Mentally practiced free throws in vivid detail with emotion. They visualized themselves sinking the basket every time.
RESULT: The intermediate and expert free throw takers in both groups improved by basically the same amount.
When you want to improve a skill, focus on perfect practice. Do not just count the hours. Peak performers do whatever it takes, while focusing the whole time on the result. If it takes you 10,000 hours to be an expert, that is great. If you get to the same level in 9,000 hours, it does not matter. Result matters most which comes from perfect practice.
To learn more about how to get results in your life, download this free e-book 5 Best Ways To Achieve Your Goals.