Daily Archives: September 7, 2009

If you’re thinking too much you’re not practicing enough

There’s an old saying in softball (and baseball) that goes “Quite thinking, you’re hurting the ballclub.” While it’s usually said in good humor there is some truth to it. Especially when it comes to executing skills.

When you first learn a new skill there’s a lot of thinking involved. You’re trying to get the movements right and overcome old habits in the process. It takes a lot of thinking, checking and rechecking. As you become more successful with the skill you get to the point of conscious competence — the ability to do what you want to do as you think it through.

That’s not the goal, though. At the point of conscious competence you’re not able to give your maximum effort. There’s still a point of being careful involved when you’re thinking. The point you want to get to instead is unconscious competence — the point where you no longer have to think about what you’re doing, but instead just do it (as the billboards say). At that point you can give 100 percent effort — throw yourself into it entirely without any worries.

There’s only one way to get there — through repetition. How many reps varies by the skill and by the person. But it’s more than a few no matter who you are. You’ll know when it’s enough — because you no longer have to think about what you’re doing, You’re simply going out there and giving it your all. On the other hand, if you’re thinking too much, you’re not practicing enough. Time to get to work!

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