In this post, I want to talk about three “underground” principles of effective practice that most people are hardly aware of.

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Immediate feedback

When you’re playing soccer, you can immediately see whether the ball hit the goal or not. The same is true with tennis, it’s either a winner or a fault. This immediate feedback enables you to adjust your actions so you can learn quickly what to do and what not to do.

Thus, it’s a good idea to utilize this principle of immediate feedback in your practice sessions. If you sing a phrase first and play it next, you can compare whether you played correctly or not and adjust your actions. What other ways of applying this principle can you think of?

Practicing slowly

Till Eulenspiegel was walking towards the next town when he heard horses and a coach getting closer, quickly. The coachman was in a hurry and asked Till, “Quickly, how much time does it take to reach the next town?”

Till replied, “About half an hour, if you drive slowly.”

“Fool,” the coachman replied and continued his journey as fast as possible.

Till continued leisurely and after about an hour, he saw the coach lying on the side of the road. The front axle was broken, and the coachman was swearing while trying desperately to repair the axle.

“Well, I told you: Half an hour, when driving slowly…”

We are in such a hurry.
We cannot wait.
We no longer value the ripening of a skill, the unfolding of a process. It’s the source of many problems we face today.

Ask yourself: where are you impatient? Are you searching for shortcuts? Where do you refuse to accept that some things just take time?

Which leads us to the next principle…

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When something doesn’t work, it’s frustrating, but it’s actually good that we are frustrated. Because emotions drive us. So, it’s not a good idea to pretend you are happy, content and successful all the time. When you’re frustrated, it’s about utilizing this strong emotion.

First, you try to find a solution to your problem. Sometimes this works, and may be because of the frustration you experienced. However, it’s not always possible to find or apply a solution. Then you take the next step.

Feel the feeling of futility. By that, I mean accept that there’s nothing you can do to effect a change. Gordon Neufeld calls it “the wall of futility.” When you allow yourself to feel this futility, this sadness, the “wall” melts away, and learning takes place on a deep level.

When you can neither find a solution nor feel your futility about it, you’ll get angry about it. This isn’t constructive, but the energy must go somewhere. After you have calmed down, you can start again with facing the problem and searching for a solution, and so on.

I want to emphasize the importance of emotions and feelings, as they are an indispensable ingredient in every learning process.

The next step…

What ideas did you get by reading this article? What are you going to differently next time you practice? Please share your ideas in the comment box below.

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