Get Your Reps In

I can remember when I’d walk into my piano teachers studio.  I’d say hello, open the books and start to play what I was supposed to have been practicing the throughout the week.  This went one of two ways.

After I played there would either be an attitude of disappointment, or there would be praise.  This is how it went every time.  If I hadn’t practiced, she could tell quickly.  She’d tell me “you just need to get these things under your fingers”.

When I heard this, I knew she was just saying practice more.  What she was saying was that I needed to do whatever she had assigned…repeatedly…until I didn’t have to think about it anymore.  Until my fingers knew what to do without me thinking.  Here’s a Wikipedia article on the four stages of competence.  What she was recommending is that I practice what she had assigned until I got to the final stage in those four stages of competence – unconscious competence.

I see this so many places.  In sports, how many times do you see people practice drills and passes and free throws and three pointers.

From the outside looking in, it looks easy when they perform on the big stages, but you don’t see the hours of repetition behind the scenes.  Normally, the people who have reached the level of unconscious competence come around to the fact that nobody cares about the behind the scenes.  Nobody cares about Lebron James’ thousands of practice shots.  They want to see the final product.

In anything worth being great in…there’s going to be reps – things you do repeatedly until they become second nature.  Get your reps in.

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