Deliberate practice is a mindful and highly structured form of learning by doing. It's a process of continuous experimentation to first achieve mastery and eventually full automaticity of a specific skill. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science argues that it can increase our performance by 26% in games, 21% in music and 18% in sports.
Here are some tips on how to do it well.
Define Success and Drill Deliberately: Define all the elements you need to practice to become successful. Then drill each element deliberately, one after the other. In Tennis, that could be first your serves and then later your leg work. If you want to become a professional barista, first perfect your moves to make the espresso, then your skills to serve the ideal coffee.
Plan, Reflect and Take Notes: Plan out your practice routine, for example in a notebook. After each session, reflect and write down what you've discovered: what worked? What didn't? The idea is to get a clear sense of how a particular session improves your skills and then to experiment to find a new and even better way to achieve your goals.
Go Slow: To build a good foundation of muscle memory, practice slow and correctly. If we move too fast, we risk learning and internalizing the wrong skills, which can bring terrible consequences. To achieve mastery, our brain needs time to develop. So start slow and then gradually increase the speed until you give all you've got.
Limit Your Sessions to Focus: Deliberate practice is hard mental work. Limit the sessions to a reasonable duration that allows you to stay focused. This may be 15 minutes if you are younger and 60 minutes if you are older. A Cristiano Ronaldo trains around 3-4 hours of football a day. Young Shaolin Monks practice 2 hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, To keep their attention high, they switch the style of practice every 10 minutes.
Maximize Practice Time: Legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to let each of his players practice putting on socks and shoes so that they learn to do it really fast. By doing this, he maximized the time to practice throwing the ball and discussing game strategy with his team. Track Small Intervals of Improvement
If you practice running 800 meters, count the milliseconds, not the minutes. If you are working out or practice controlling your diet, measure milligrams and millimeters. The smaller the data points you measure, the faster you see progress and the more you feel motivated to continue.