Attentive repetition is the most effective way to build skill. The execution of the action is absolutely imperative and irreplaceable to build and maintain the expert level of proficiency.
So, daily practice matters. A lot! But how much repetition is desirable, needed and productive?
More isn’t always better. Practicing 4 hours a day is not necessarily better than practicing 2 hours a day. It all depends on the Deep Practice state of mind we’re in. If you’re not in the zone, just take a break and return later.
Anders Ericson’s research on the 10.000 hours of practice calculated an ideal amount of time one needs to pursue. He concluded estimating 3 to 5 hours a day. Other researches are not far from these numbers and the top trainers, coaches and mentors seem to consciously or unconsciously move inside these parameters.
There is no absolute truth regarding the amount of daily practice hours. For that matter, quality prevails over quantity. The method of Deep Practice is king. Engage in a focused state of mind while practicing: Mindful practice instead of mindless repetition.
Subsequently, the most important key to Mastery is learning how to practice. How can we raise practice productivity?
Strategy is core to productivity increase. Fooling around with a tune is not an option. As a top athlete in sports that always knows where he is in the field, a musicians first step consists in tuning his instrument, then in tuning his ear.
In order to avoid mistakes one has to feel them immediately. At all times, in all areas of skill, there is only one thing to be practicing: Concentration.
Concentration is a feeling, so you need to practice that feeling. Learn to feel it. Have you experienced a feeling of reaching, falling short and reaching again? What about a feeling of focus, intensity, attention, connection, build up, wholeness, alert, edge, or awake?
Practicing is like a divine dissatisfaction. It is a productive and uncomfortable spot located just beyond our current abilities. It’s a path that makes you stop looking outside for solutions to start reaching within.
Remember: To get access the key to Mastery it’s helpful to be willing and enthusiastic about being bad.
For more on the subject check “The Talent Code”, by Daniel Coyle