It may surprise you to find that many top athletes also enjoy playing music and vice versa. This is true because top athletes, musicians and artists all have something very important in common. They all enjoy exploring their personal potential. Whether you want to be a world class musician or an international sports star you will follow the same path to success. This quest is called practice. Practice is all about bringing yourself closer to perfection one small but specific and very targeted step at a time. Once you have accumulated a broad palate of these fundamental competencies you are rewarded with the indescribable joy of performing almost effortlessly and with great skill.
The first thing to understand about practice is that at some point it will involve a certain degree of either mental or physical discomfort. It either causes physical pain like calluses and muscle strains or mental stress like when an exercise feels so awkward at first it’s like someone is dragging their finger nails across the chalk board of your mind. If this were not true then everyone would be a combination of Roger Federer and Jimmy Hendrix. What gives the best performers the motivation to continue in spite of the long and meticulous path is the value they place on achieving their own perfect individual expression. Once you have experienced, it something goes off inside you and you are driven to continue.
Artists and athletes achieve greatness through practice. Either they instinctively recognize the fundamental skills required and practice them on their own or they find a coach. With guitar that might involve playing progressions or practicing rhythm and counting out strumming patterns over and over again. In Track and Field it is doing drills like the “B-skip” or “falling starts” to single out and perfect one specific movement from all the coordinated mechanics involved in perfect running form. First, practice drills use biomechanical feedback to help you identify in your mind what the right way is supposed to feel like. Second, drills are a quick and convinient way to repeat that specific activity or movement until you have mastered it.
In a nut shell, here’s how practice really works. Create in your mind a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Be proud of this vision knowing that your ambition for personal discovery will be infinitely rewarding. Finally, learn everything you can about the fundamentals of that activity (This is where a coach comes in handy) and remember that you will reach your goals one practice at a time.