Blueprint >> Deliberate Practice

Disclaimer: This document is in raw form as I process and distill 4 years-worth of my personal development notes. Expect some typos and cryptic language for now. I will be updating frequently and polishing up.

Prescription: Understand deliberate practice. Engage in deliberate practice.
Related Concepts: Mastery, 10,000 Hours, Be Patient, Failure is Good, Kaizen

What is Deliberate Practice?

The idea that mastery is developed through a particular type of focused, effortful practice. Not all forms of practice are the same. Some forms are orders of magnitude better than others. An environment can be designed to encourage rapid learning.

Why is it important?

Knowing how to practice effectively will make it easier for you to achieve mastery and get all the benefits that come with it: authority, fame, money, freedom, flow experiences, etc.

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Coach Leo Gura
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Deliberate Practice: Key Points

Not all practice is equal. If you want to get really good, you should understand how to increase your learning velocity. If you practice deliberately, you will do 1 hour of practice in 5 minutes. Chances are right now you aren't practicing efficiently, wasting your time.

Create an rapid-learning environment where you can practice over and over again really efficiently.

Deliberate practice is how you get good at anything. But it is different than what you'd normally call practice. Deliberate practice is hardcore practice with the intent of understanding a mechanic and repeating it as much as humanly possible.

The differences between normal practice and deliberate practice:

  • The goal is to improve skills, not performance. Performance may in fact be sacrificed for skill development.
  • Doing it correctly rather than quickly. Slow it down and break it down into small chunks.
  • Very repetitive.
  • Clear feedback when mistakes are made.
  • Logical analysis of the system, chunking up, chunking down, and creating mental models of how things work.
  • Requires focus and concentration.
  • Not inherently enjoyable because you're pushing outside your comfort zone.

For those 2 or 3 things that you're mastering in your life, set up an environment where you can practice quickly and efficiently. This often involves making a practical change. For example, if you want to master basketball, buy yourself a hoop so you don't have to drive to the courts. If you want to become a good writer, design your life so that you're writing very often. The basics are: make sure you're doing it very often + makes sure you're doing it correctly + make sure you're building a mental model.

Maximize deliberate practice and avoid distractions. Make sure you are actually doing deliberate practice in whatever you're trying to master or be successful in. If you're trying to be a painter, spend most of your time actually painting and making tweaks to your technique. If you're trying to be an athlete, spend most of your time doing drills and making tweaks to your technique. If you're trying to be a good parent, spend most of your time parenting and making tweaks to your technique.

If you want to be world class, you better be doing deliberate practice. If you're mediocre, it's because you're not doing enough deliberate practice.

Identify and eliminate distractions that are keeping you from doing deliberate practice. Identify the parts of your skill which need to practiced the most and focus on those.

Places where deliberate practice can apply well:

  • Becoming a stand-up comedian
  • Becoming an professional painter, musician, writer, filmmaker, or dancer
  • Becoming a professional hairstylist
  • Becoming a professional athlete
  • Becoming a good parent
  • Reaching enlightenment
  • Any professional like doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.
  • Learning pick-up
  • Learning a new hobby or sport
  • Improving your learning technique, memory, mental math, speed reading, etc.
  • Learning a new language
  • Learning meditation
  • Learning martial arts


  1. Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin
  2. The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle
  3. Mastery, George Leonard