Posts Tagged practice

You Need Constant Practice To Improve Sports And Stage Performance, Leadership Skills And Living Your Life, Says Aikido Master Richard Strozzi-Heckler

These excerpts (mostly about sports) are from a longer, broader article by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, author of seven books, master of aikido, and founder of Strozzi Institute for embodied leadership training, which incorporates physical methods as well as cognitive approaches. The complete article can be found at

You Are What You Practice

“We are what we repeatedly do.”

By Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D.

…To get good at something it’s necessary to practice…Researchers say 300 repetitions produce body memory, which is the ability to enact the correct movement, technique, or conversation by memory. It’s also been pointed out that 3000 repetitions creates embodiment, which is not having to think about doing the activity, as it is simply part of who we are….

Compare this with a recent ad on television that promotes weight loss with the promise that, “You don’t have to change your life, you only have to take a pill.” We live in a culture that sells the quick fix, instant gratification, and get it all right now, on a daily basis. While we may understand, at least intellectually, the importance of practice when we casually comment to our children that it’s necessary to practice when learning to play the piano, type, write in cursive, or drive a car, it’s largely an idea that’s unexamined.

The media and entertainment industry create the illusion that by simply stepping into the right car, dressing in the latest fashions, or dyeing our hair a certain color, our goals will be instantly attained. The idea of committing to a practice to achieve mastery or personal fulfillment is not a highly endorsed idea. When we’re constantly fed a diet of “Fast, temporary relief,” there is very little incentive to consider a practice as a way to positively take charge of our health, behaviors, relationships, attitude, or over-all success in life, to say nothing of developing leaders.

The notions we do have of practice are through the realm of sports or the performing arts, where perhaps we’ve had some experience, or at least enough familiarity (mostly as fans), to know that it’s a requirement for success.

Yes, we understand that athletes and performers practice, but what is invisible to us is how much they practice. They continue to practice during the entire season, during the off-season, and even while they’re in a championship series or in a heavily booked performance cycle.

In a recent interview with Ellen Degeneres, you could hear the audible gasp of the primarily adolescent female audience, as Britney Spears reported that it’s not uncommon for her to practice her singing and dance moves 12 hours a day; Read the rest of this entry »

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Do You Practice Tennis the Same Way You Play?

After making it to the gym the night of the 28th, I went out to dinner, ate until I was full, and brought home the leftovers, which I ate for lunch the next day and also dinner. Amazing—what some people eat in one meal lasts three for me. I am not a yogi or holy man in India living on a glass of ghee a day. But I sure eat less than many. No wonder I am not overweight. Now what is there about my body that requires so little food compared to others? I will do some research…

My back was a bit sore from three straight days of activity, so I rested on Wednesday. I swore to myself that I would reach the gym on Thursday, the last day of April, and that would make eight gym visits for the month. I must squeeze it in, I promised. No matter what!

I did make time Wednesday night for some more archery practice. And I had an insight that I must remember on the hunt and that applies to all sports, as well as other life situations. So often we practice one way and then perform differently “on stage.” And it is very hard to change our habits when the “real” test is in our face.

For example, when I warm up for tennis with a partner—or just hit with someone for an hour—the goal is to keep the rally going. So we make a big effort to return the ball to the guy on the other side of the net. This is especially true for me when I am practicing volleys, those returns that are hit before the ball touches the ground. I am just a couple of feet from the net, the ball is smashed at my body or close by, I reflexively hit it back before it passes me, and I hit it directly to the player across the net, so he can hit another volley to me.

What I began to notice a few months ago was that in the game I was automatically doing the same thing—returning my volley right to my damned opponent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Swinging is Easier When There’s No Ball That Needs Hitting

Well the squash lesson two days ago helped a lot. I did play much better, earned 4 points two or three games and 2 and 3 points some of the others. We had some strong rallies, I made it to the ball more often, and I came back to the center instead of staying on the edge. I hit the forehand and backhands correctly and even powerfully at times. But I lost too many points being unable to return his serve off the wall from my backhand.

What is that about? I was returning that shot maybe 80% of the time in the lesson, and one day later against an opponent only hitting the ball 40 to 50%? My coach said it is easy to make a correct swing, but the perfect swing gets harder when you add a ball to the mix and have to hit it—even when you are just practicing by yourself. Is that true for all facets of one’s life? The rehearsal goes great, and the live performance is often flawed. But at least those practice sessions give you a better chance at improving the real thing.

To console myself after dinner, I worked on my abs while watching television. This was rare–to actually remember to exercise and to also have the follow through to actually DO the drills. So painful and so much effort. But it feels so good when I stop. And there is that satisfyingly relaxed tiredness that comes from pushing yourself physically.

I love the feeling of leaving the gym after a workout, and am even a little jealous of the people exiting when I am first arriving. But at least I am persevering more than ever before. Where are those abs that have been dormant my whole life? Wake up you guys, hibernation time is over!!

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