Deep Practice

*The Route 56 Challenge: Day 49*

You’ve heard it a billion times. Practice makes perfect, right? I can say I owe everything (literally Everything with a capital “E”) I’ve ever done athletically to practice. That being said, I’ll cast my vote for validation of the adage.

I want to “call and raise ya one,” however.

Unfortunately, what I’m about to describe actually makes the whole practice-equals-success model a bit more difficult. Yes, I’m saying logging arduous hours of training and practice actually isn’t enough.

Go, Daddy! Go!

The distinction I’m making is between practice and deliberate practice. The difference is a mental component. Just showing up isn’t enough. Slow, deliberate, mindful practice is the epicenter of true skill development.

In and of themselves, 1000 attempts at a triple axle won’t move a skater any closer to achieving the movement. Mindful practice with hyper-awareness to each failure and an intentional approach to learning for 1000 repetitions, however, is a different story.

The novice student can, at times, become frustrated that his/her “hard work” isn’t paying off. It’s important to note, however, that accumulating hours on the job or years with a craft doesn’t guarantee anything. I think anyone would agree that he/she knows the difference between training deliberately and simply marking time.

This changes the game a bit doesn’t it? Claiming that you work hard isn’t just about where your body is and what it’s doing. It’s requisite that your mind is there, too.

Imagine two young boys practicing a few lines of music on the violin, each in their own homes. One boy sets a timer for one hour, and begins to play a song top to bottom over and over for practice. The other boy spends the same hour, but his practice is deliberately, almost painfully, slow and methodical. He plays note for note, only to get to the end of the line of music and start again. His search for perfection, feeling exactly where his notes slip out of tune, and the inevitable attempts to correct the errors is a great example of deep practice. Do you see the difference?

We all can fall victim to simply marking time in class. You’re body may be there, but if you aren’t relentless in your effort to learn, you’re practice may go unrewarded. Before you begin to claim frustration for the results, or lack-thereof, of your training, first check the type of practice you’re excercising.

Deep practice is the only practice that counts.


Logan Gelbrich


Saturday’s Workout:

Route 56 Challenge Training

Alternating rounds with a partner, AMRAP 20:

5 Deadlifts (155/115)

10 Hand Release Push Ups

100m Run




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