The science behind PRACTICE

The science behind PRACTICE


Welcome to Tuesday’s topics.Today my guest is James clear And if you haven’t read any of his work You really need to. James basically writes about how to do everything in life better… Using scientific theories and research as the backbone He basically does all the hard work for us and then gives us a cheat sheet to life on his website Jamesclear.com James thank you so much for joining me today. Oh, thank you. Yeah, that’s very nice of you to say I’m excited to talk And today we’re talking about the best way to practice sports, something you write about and called -deliberate practice- But before we dive in, James, tell me a little bit about how you discovered You had a talent for all of this. I had a friend early on so I’ve been writing about habits and behavior change for about six years and when I launched Jamesclear.com in late 2012 I had this feeling similar to many people you get this kind of imposter syndrome early like well who am I to write up this or you know, like why am I the expert and He told me the way you become an expert is by writing about it every week And so I really internalized that process of just showing up and banking the work and putting in my reps Because in order to write a few hundred articles on the subject I had to read a lot and interview people and experts. I talked to a lot of different neuro scientists, biologists, and psychologists and so on and then I think the most important part of it is Implementing the ideas in my daily life. Before we dig in, I did want to take a second and tell everyone about BAND It’s a communication app that I used with my basketball team my little 10-year-olds team. It’s free It’s super easy to use and download. It helps your team. Stay connected. I was able to send videos attachments, schedules, communicate really easily with your team. So just go to BAND.com to download it. Alright, let’s dive in James What is deliberate practice? Sure, so this idea of deliberate practice I was not the one who coined the term Anders Ericsson who’s a researcher at Florida State University Was the one that kind of was behind the initial surge of the research there And I think he he may have been the one who’s popularized the term And then Malcolm Gladwell in his book, I think was in Outliers. He talks about the 10,000 hour rule, which is sort of the more common knowledge Application of this idea of deliberate practice that you have to put in a lot of reps or 10,000 hours to get good at something or to master a particular skill But the caveat to that is that it’s not just time It’s not just reps, you know there are many examples of people putting in mindless practice and then not really leading to a whole lot of improvement in the actual skill, you know, you can imagine a ten-year-old who’s being forced to go to piano lessons and it’s like well, you know, like they’re here doing it, but they’re not actually Effortfully thinking about it or concentrating on the development of the skill one of the examples that I’ve given in an article that I wrote about deliberate practice is imagine the difference between two basketball players who show up at the gym and each one is going to shoot free throws for an hour and the first one shoots free throws and it’s just kind of like Goofing off and talking to their friends and they you know, get a couple shots up every now and then And they don’t really pay any attention to how many they’re making or how many they’re missing. Whereas the second player Shoots ten shots and tracks every one and then looks at what happened? Of those ten like did they miss long or short, to the left or to the right, and after each set of ten they reassess? Where they were going wrong and how they could improve and then they do another batch of ten and they do this for an entire hour and that kind of effortful thought and measurement is going to lead to a much better much greater skill development in a much shorter period of time so That’s sort of the like core essence of deliberate practice is being Purposeful about it, being careful about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. So you also talk about feedback Because what I try to do when I do these interviews is take these concepts and kind of relate them on a practical level For our parents, so if I’m at home and I’m hearing this. How can I practically put that into play for my kids? Yeah, it’s a great question. So One of the key things for so learning if you think about learning just in general not just an athletic skill but any skill or idea learning is a feedback loop and what I mean by that is you you face a situation and you have some kind of expectation for how to respond or what do whether with the answer is on the the tests that you’re being asked or what the right move is on the basketball court and You have this expectation You take a response and then you get some kind of outcome you find out was the answer right or was the move the most effective one to get to the basket or whatever and it’s that response or that outcome that Teaches you whether it was effective or not And so really if you think about it feedback is the essential Component in learning, because it allows you to update your plan or your idea for the next time so what you really want is a faster tighter feedback loop, because the tighter the feedback is, the more likely you are to learn. And this is one reason why kids and adults love video games so much because video games are like the the Ideal perfect form of immediate feedback. So your playing and your score is going up in the corner Anytime you collect like a powerup or rubies or coins or whatever There’s like a jingle or a chime even the the pitter-patter of steps on the ground as you’re like running or advancing through the level is some form of positive feedback and When you combine all of that instant feedback together what it does is it’s a signal that you’re making progress and this is really what you want your kids or anybody to feel when They’re going through an experience If they have a signal of making progress Then they have a reason to continue and repeat it again in the future because it feels good It naturally feels satisfying to make progress on something So the key here with deliberate Practices you want to make sure you’re practicing the right things and focusing on that effortful work and you know to come back to that Example that I gave about like shooting free throws and tracking while you’re doing or whatever but you want to do it in such a way that The the child or the person is getting immediate forms of feedback, they’re getting immediate signals of progress and The easiest way to do this is just with measurement and tracking so Measuring how many shots you make or measuring How many bars you play correctly on the piano or measuring, you know all that type of stuff but I want to add like an important caveat there, which is that measurement can take a variety of different forms, you know It doesn’t have to be like if you want to lose weight one way to measure that is with the scale But if the scale was a slow measurement in the sense that it doesn’t move that quickly Well you go work out then you step on the scale But your body is still basically the same so that you don’t really have that positive feedback that the workout was worth it so One way to overcome that is to look for different forms of measurement or something else to track that is that gives you faster feedback? So this is why with weight loss people will often talk about like non scale victories, you know like your Your jeans fit that you couldn’t wear before your skin looks better or you have better energy and like all of those are more qualitative things they’re not necessarily things you can like write a number down for but By having a faster form of measurement or faster signal of progress. You have a reason to repeat it and So with children or with with teaching or coaching kids what that often looks like is praise the good ignore the bad It doesn’t necessarily mean you ignore every mistake but if you’re praising the positive effort, then you’re giving some signal of positive feedback or some signal of a Reason for them to repeat even if you don’t necessarily have like the mathematical measurement for it So just something to consider when it comes to measurement it’s not all about the number Do you have any other tips, I mean, I know every sport would be somewhat different but how to break that down for a parent working with their kid yeah, so The larger principle here is not about measurements specifically but about making it satisfying and so another way to do this and this is Part of this is the process of growing up and experimenting with different things. But the idea here is that habits and behaviors that are more satisfying that make you feel Successful after you do them are the ones that are more likely to be repeated Because it’s kind of like there’s this positive emotional signal in the brain where it says, hey that felt good You should repeat this again next time And so I think that there’s a little bit of strategy involved here. So Michael Phelps One of those famous, you know Olympians of all time one was successful swimmers of all time He is six-foot-four and there’s this guy named Jicamo Garoug that is a really famous Moroccan runner and who held the record, I think in the mile the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters at some point and Oh Garoug is 7-inches shorter than Phelps is, so they’re completely different in height But they have the exact same length inseam on their pants So Garoug is like all legs with this tiny torso and Phelps has relatively short legs and really long back And the point is both of them are perfectly built for their respective sports And if you switch them even though Phelps is arguably the greatest Olympian of all time Would he be able to qualify for the Olympics as a runner? Would he be able to do Garoug’s sport and the answer is almost certainly no. At peak fitness Phelps was like one hundred and ninety-four pounds and L. Garoug ran around like 130/135 pounds so he’d have been 60 pounds overweight by the time he got to the starting line and My point here is that success in any area of life is often a matching problem. It’s about figuring out It’s not that your genes or a lot of times people don’t like to talk about genes or personality because it feels kind of fixed But it’s not that genes are good or bad It’s just that they’re effective or ineffective in a particular context if you’re seven-feet tall That’s a really effective set of genes if you want to play basketball It’s a really ineffective set of genes if you want to be a gymnast and so a lot of finding these a lot of deliberate practice and figuring out how to help your kids succeed in different sports or in different areas of life is Not necessarily about the practice strategy, but about finding the right opportunity that matches up with their particular strengths and so for pretty much any habit if you’re talking about getting in shape or being an athlete well There’s like a million ways to be an athlete. You could be a swimmer. You could be a runner You could be a tennis star, you could do all kinds of things, but you need to figure out which Areas are more likely to overlap Where is that Venn diagram overlap with their genetics and personality and what the sport asks of them? And if that’s the case, Then asking them to do deliberate practice for those particular sports, for those opportunities, you know You can’t predict with perfect accuracy what a kid is going to be interested in or where they’re gonna succeed But the better you can overlap that the more likely they are to feel successful because they’re going to be well suited to the task the people who are at the top are both well suited and well trained they’re they’re well matched with the opportunity and they work their butt off and in many cases They want to work harder because they’re so well matched, because they have these feelings of progress as they work on something That’s well suited for them This is something we talk about on the website All the time is that you’ve got to be willing and able to move outside of your comfort zone. So back to the Actual practice of it. Kids often. I know my little ones, I’ll send them out to do some practice or whatever. They’re just practicing What’s fun and easy the whole time? They don’t want to go and do those things that aren’t necessarily in their wheelhouse already Yeah, they just practice the same thing. Right, you see this all the time at the gym They go into the gym and they do the same exercise, the same rep, same weight, every time. It’s like well There’s no stimulus there for your body to respond to, there’s no there’s no challenge And you don’t wanna you don’t overstretch because then you know in the gym That’s when you end up injured or tired or whatever And of course, it’s just where you get frustrated because your job something’s too hard But what you want is to stay in. I wrote an article about this called the Goldilocks zone So, you know imagine you’re playing tennis if you play against someone who’s a professional like Serena Williams or Roger Federer or something it’s gonna get boring pretty quick because you’re gonna lose every point and if you play against a five-year-old, It’s gonna get boring pretty quick. So you’re gonna win every point But if you play against someone who’s about your equal, they win a few points you win a few But you have a chance to win but only if you like really try, that is about the most motivating thing possible for the human brain. You’re in this Goldilocks region where you’re working on a challenge of just manageable difficulty not too hard not too easy. Just right So there are many reading programs and schools that this is how they the most successful ones Make sure that each student is kept on the reading level That’s like right on the cusp for them If it’s too easy Then they just get bored because they can read everything and if it’s too hard then they get depressed and upset because it’s too challenging But the way to get kids to read better to read more is to keep them kind of close to that edge and of course As they learn and improve you need to continue to nudge the line up, but the same thing is true for sports Is there some part that we haven’t discussed yet that you’d like to share? No, I think those are kind of the main ones I mean the first thing is choosing the right matching environment for your particular skill set or child’s skill set trying to be well aligned. The second thing is Measurement and figuring out some way to provide some of that immediate positive feedback and then I would say the third thing is Over the long run even if you have positive feedback It’s gonna get boring if you do the same thing every time so you need to kind of nudge that line forward with that Goldilocks rule. And one thing, I thought our parents would be interested in hearing, I know you talked about how important the gene and the matchup is… But for most of the research it says it’s really about practicing and deliberate practice , that even if you weren’t born with these amazing athletic genes If you can figure this aspect out, you can be an expert or great or elite as we say in sports Yeah I think, No, I said this earlier any pick any skill you want Anything in life if you practice deliberately and do it consistently over time. You’re gonna get better The human brain is wired for progress. It’s wired for learning Where I think people will take it too far is when they think that that means you can become world-class in any field and I don’t know that that is particularly true I think that and this comes back to what I said earlier about being well suited and well trained You know, it’s gonna be it’s gonna be very difficult to be five foot four and play in the NBA It’s just that you’re not well suited for the task but again that’s fine because there’s some six-foot-eight person in the NBA that is poorly suited for a bunch of other things and so it More becomes about figuring out how to match that up But it is true that even if you’re five-foot-four by deliberately practicing basketball You can become a much better shot and much more fluent dribbler and a better passer and so on Muggsy Bouges, made it all the way to the NBA Yeah, I mean everybody has the ability to learn and probably It’s likely that your ceiling is way higher than what you actually think it is and so if you’re willing to implement those ideas and Commit to it consistently and have some kind of positive feedback to nudge you along Then you can end up probably further than you would expect and surprise yourself with your abilities. I love that All right. Tell me about Atomic Habits An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones how to change your habits and get 1% better every day That’s the book. I just pre-ordered it last night, but tell us a little bit about it. Oh, thank you so much Yeah, so I spent the last three years working and researching on this book. So it’s called Atomic Habits, and it’s essentially the most comprehensive and practical guide on how to build better habits and get 1% better each day And it’s sort of a philosophy of continuous improvement But what I’ve tried to do with the book and I think succeeded on is writing a book that is both what I would call like the why and the how it’s both why we build habits and why they occur why the brain falls into those patterns and how you can actually take control of the process and build habits that work in your favor or break the ones that aren’t serving you and so The book goes over what I call the four laws of behavior change and each law is sort of like a lever or a set of tools that you can use in your toolbox for building good habits of breaking bad ones and If you’re interested in checking it out the book is at Atomichabits.com Atomichabits.com and your website Jamesclear.com and I so thank you for your time Really really interesting stuff James. I hope to talk to you more again in the future. Yeah. Thank you so much for the opportunity Great to talk to you

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