Talent vs Hard Work

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You’ve most likely heard this quote. I am a big fan of it, because for the field of sport psychology, hard work is in your control, while talent is out of your control.  In any given competition, instead of focusing on which team is more talented, just focus on working as hard as you can in that game.  Instead of thinking too much about your opponent being higher ranked than you, just focus on out-working that opponent.

But what about talent – what is it?  Is it the ability you are born with, or ability that you build over time with training, focus, and (yes, again), hard work?  Dictionary.com kind of gives us both answers:

Definition 1 makes it sound like you are born with talent.
Definition 2 includes “capacity,” which makes it sounds like you can grow into talent
So, going back to the controllables, let’s stick to #2 – that we have a capacity of talent to be able to reach.  So here’s where “hard work” comes in.  You have to put the work in.  Even the most naturally gifted athletes (LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Simone Blies, to name a few) are ALSO hard workers.
In his 2008 book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000 hour rule,” from researcher Anders Ericson’s work involving high level musicians.  Basically it says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a task.
This is a very memorable “rule,” and makes sense when you read it.  But, research since then has de-bunked 10,000 hours as a scientific measurement, that’s just a nice round number.   But for argument’s sake, let’s say 10,000 hours is the number to shoot for.
The biggest issue with it, is that it just says 10,000 hours of practice.  The quantity of time it takes.  But it doesn’t make any note of the QUALITY of that time.  This is where the idea of “deliberate practice” comes in.  Deliberate practice is when you practice learning from an expert, when you are motivated and passionate about that practice, and when that practice is tied into a meaningful long term goal.
Think about it this way.  If I spent 10,000 hours practicing shooting baskets in my driveway, would that necessarily make me a better basketball player?  What if my technique was all wrong, or if I never did conditioning, or played against live competition.  I may have done all that work to never be able to get a shot off without it getting blocked.   
Deliberate practice would involve me practicing for multiple facets of the game, at a high level of intensity, learning from great coaches, watching game film, hitting the gym, and much more – but more importantly, loving doing all of it!  If I put in 5,000 hours of this type of practice, that might be more effective than just chucking up shots in my driveway for twice that amount of time.
So, how can YOU make your practice more deliberate?
How can you focus in on the details of your sport?
How can you bring more motivation and passion into your practice?
In other words, how do you more quickly improve the capacity of your talent?  
It’s like the quote from the beginning:
Time for a session!   If you are booking with Brian:
If you are booking with Mike:  email wilson.miket@gmail.com
If you are booking with Jimmy:  email Jimmy@amplifysportpsychology.com

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