On Jerry Rice and Deliberate Practice

This week’s learning is from ‘Talent is Overrated’ by Geoff Colvin.

Last week, we took a first look at the amazing story of Jerry Rice – a boy with unspectacular ‘natural’ athletic attributes who went on to become one of the greatest ball players of all time. We know Jerry worked harder than anyone else in the NFL – but was that all? Here, let’s first study a concept called Deliberate Practice.

Deliberate Practice is activity designed to improve performance and has 4 characteristics

– It is designed, often with a teacher’s help

– It can be repeated a lot

Feedback on results is always available

– It is very demanding and it is not much fun

Jerry Rice’s off-season work out consisted of cardio exercise that involved running on a hilly 5 mile trail including ten 40 metre wind sprints at the steepest section (!) followed by weight training in the afternoon. His training session was so demanding that the 49ers trainer never released information on his workout out of fear that other players would hurt themselves.

Why such a specific work out? This training regime gave him the 3 traits most necessary for a wide receiver – explosive acceleration, incredible strength for his build and the kind of endurance that won the 49ers many games in the 4th quarters when other teams got tired. In short, Jerry Rice knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

clip_image001Photo by Navin

There are 2 action steps I have taken away from this –

For every activity I take seriously, I need to always find a coach!: The best performers always have coaches. If that isn’t a good enough reason..

Ensure I’m always applying Deliberate Practice. I have been testing out deliberate practice in my guitar practices over the past 2 months and I have ample evidence that this thing just works! It’s not fun.. But it works. Now, I need to apply this across everything I do..

What were your take aways?

Here’s to finding coaches and designing deliberate practice regimes this week!

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