Professional sportsperson or not, we all daydream about just how long it might take for us to gain elite status at our favourite sports. According to Malcom Gladwell, 10,000 hours of practice is exactly what it would take.
The 10000 hour rule, theorised by author Malcom Gladwell, in his bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, is based on research into the abilities of elite performers in fields such as chess, music, tennis and swimming. He concluded that 10,000 hours of practice is what it took for these experts to get to the top of their game.
So, does practice really make perfect?
The 10000 hour rule serves as a reminder that hard work and perseverance have a huge role to play when it comes to achieving fitness goals. It has become the philosophy of many coaches and programmes dedicated to young athletes. It promotes the ‘practice makes perfect’ mind-set and recognises that hard work and deliberate practice are key drivers of success.
How can I maximise my performance progress?
After analysing Gladwell’s theory, many psychologists have concluded that ‘deliberate practice’ means practicing in a way that pushes you to your personal limits as much as possible. It’s worth considering that particularly in the case of sport and fitness, how you practice matters just as much as how much you practice.
Working at something half-heartedly for 10,000 hours of course isn’t going to yield the same success compared to if you’d put everything you had into each training session. That’s where a dedicated training plan, sports coach, mentor or personal trainer can come in handy to make sure you’re following the right path. Third party assistance can also be useful to provide continual feedback which is going to further accelerate your performance.
What about genetics?
Genetics of course play a role, especially when it comes to elite athletes. However, Usain Bolt, Roger Federer or Serena Williams simply wouldn’t be where they are today without thousands of hours of dedicated training.
The 10,000-hour rule is a good reminder that although some athletes may have a genetic disposition towards success in a certain sport, the rest of us do still stand a chance when it comes to mastering our craft. The thought that some people are genetically advantaged purely through their physicality can be a demotivating thought to sportspeople, but the 10,000-hour rule recognises that dedicating the hours to practice isn’t a lost cause at all – commitment really does pay off.
Practice, practice, practice!
10,000 hours might be a daunting prospect, but the key lesson to learn here is that mastery cannot be rushed. It might take you less than 10,000 hours, it might take you more, what is certain is that it definitely won’t happen overnight.
By putting in the hard work, perseverance and dedication, those daydreams will become a reality.