Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Rules for developing talent with disciplined, deliberate, intelligent practice
We live in a competition loving culture. We love the performance, the big win, the ticking seconds of the clock as the game comes down to the wire. We watch games and cheer, sometimes to the point of obsession, but if we really wanted to see greatness—wanted to cheer for it, see it happen, understand what made it happen—we’d spend our time watching, obsessing on, and maybe even cheering the practices instead. This book puts practice on the front burner of all who seek to instill talent and achievement in others as well as in themselves. This is a journey to understand that practice, not games, makes champions.
In this book, the authors engage the dream of better, both in fields and endeavors where participants know they should practice and also in those where many do not yet recognize the transformative power of practice. And it’s not just whether you practice. How you practice may be a true competitive advantage. Deliberately engineered and designed practice can revolutionize our most important endeavors. The clear set of rules presented in Practice Perfect will make us better in virtually every performance of life. The “how-to” rules of practice cover such topics as rethinking practice, modeling excellent practice, using feedback, creating a culture of practice, making new skills stick, and hiring for practice.
- Discover new ways to think about practice. Learn how to design successful practice. Apply practice across a wide range of realms, both personal and professional
- The authors include specific activities to jump-start practice
- Doug Lemov is the best-selling author of Teach Like a Champion
A hands-on resource to practice, the rules within will help to create positive outliers and world-changing reservoirs of talent.
Preface: Why Practice? Why Now? xv
Introduction: The Power of Practice 1
RETHINKING PRACTICE 21
Rule 1 Encode Success 25
Rule 2 Practice the 20 29
Rule 3 Let the Mind Follow the Body 32
Rule 4 Unlock Creativity . . . with Repetition 36
Rule 5 Replace Your Purpose (with an Objective) 40
Rule 6 Practice “Bright Spots” 44
Rule 7 Differentiate Drill from Scrimmage 48
Rule 8 Correct Instead of Critique 52
HOW TO PRACTICE 55
Rule 9 Analyze the Game 58
Rule 10 Isolate the Skill 62
Rule 11 Name It 66
Rule 12 Integrate the Skills 68
Rule 13 Make a Plan 72
Rule 14 Make Each Minute Matter 76
USING MODELING 83
Rule 15 Model and Describe 86
Rule 16 Call Your Shots 87
Rule 17 Make Models Believable 92
Rule 18 Try Supermodeling 95
Rule 19 Insist They “Walk This Way” 96
Rule 20 Model Skinny Parts 99
Rule 21 Model the Path 101
Rule 22 Get Ready for Your Close-up 104
Rule 23 Practice Using Feedback (Not Just Getting It) 109
Rule 24 Apply First, Then Reflect 114
Rule 25 Shorten the Feedback Loop 117
Rule 26 Use the Power of Positive 121
Rule 27 Limit Yourself 126
Rule 28 Make It an Everyday Thing 128
Rule 29 Describe the Solution (Not the Problem) 130
Rule 30 Lock It In 133
CULTURE OF PRACTICE 139
Rule 31 Normalize Error 143
Rule 32 Break Down the Barriers to Practice 148
Rule 33 Make It Fun to Practice 154
Rule 34 Everybody Does It 159
Rule 35 Leverage Peer-to-Peer Accountability 162
Rule 36 Hire for Practice 165
Rule 37 Praise the Work 169
POST-PRACTICE: MAKING NEW SKILLS STICK 173
Rule 38 Look for the Right Things 176
Rule 39 Coach During the Game (Don’t Teach) 180
Rule 40 Keep Talking 183
Rule 41 Walk the Line (Between Support and Demand) 185
Rule 42 Measure Success 188
CONCLUSION: THE MONDAY MORNING TEST 193
Appendix A: Teaching Techniques from
Teach Like a Champion 205
Appendix B: Sample Practice Activities 229
About the Authors 249
Summary of Rules 251
Doug Lemov is the author of the bestselling book, Teach Like a Champion. He was a managing director at Uncommon Schools and now directs their project on effective teaching practices.
Erica Woolway is the chief academic officer for the Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices at Uncommon Schools.
Katie Yezzi is the founding principal of Troy Prep Elementary School in New York.
"Learning to practice, this book vividly illustrates, takes time and effort, trial and error. It won't happen tomorrow. But even a small movement in the direction of more practice will reap benefits...." (The Washington Post's 'Class Struggle' blog, October 2012)
"Practice Perfect is a valuable read for everyone who wants to help their employees grow and excel through practice." (Examiner.com, October 2012)
42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better
by Doug Lemov (bestselling author of Teach Like a Champion), Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi – with foreword by Dan Heath
We've all heard the expression "practice makes perfect," but then why doesn't it always work? And why do we limit practice to things like the piano or tennis instead of what we really want to get better at like breaking bad habits, acing a meeting, advancing our careers, or leading people?
In PRACTICE PERFECT (October 1, 2012, Jossey-Bass), authors and teaching experts Doug Lemov, Katie Yezzi, and Erica Woolway show us how we can get better at anything by engineering how we practice. The book will debunk the myths and revolutionize the way we approach and think about practice just as Lemov's previous book Teach Like a Champion changed the way we teach.
By researching the latest in brain and behavioral science and in their work training teachers with Uncommon Schools, the authors found that what you do in practice matters as much if not more than how much you practice. There is a right way and a wrong way to practice. The right way involves breaking through assumptions, modeling excellent practice, using feedback, creating a culture of practice, making new skills stick and hiring for practice.
Packed with stories of practice masters like Coach John Wooden, surgeon Atul Gawande, and basketball star Michael Jordan, PRACTICE PERFECT breaks down effective practice into
42 clear rules. They include:
- ENCODE SUCCESS: Engineer your practice activities so the right actions are encoded in your mental circuitry to become habit.
- PRACTICE THE 20: 80% of your success will come from 20% of your behaviors so practice the most impactful 20% to accomplish your goal.
- LET THE MIND FOLLOW THE BODY: Automate skills so you'll use them before you consciously decide to.
- REPLACE YOUR PURPOSE WITH AN OBJECTIVE: Measure and define specifically what you'll be able to do once mastering your goal.
- ISOLATE THE SKILL: Identify and name each technique you've identified as an important building block for peak performance.
By putting together and applying these and scores of other practice rules from PRACTICE PERFECT, anyone can see big changes in their performance. If you are a manager, educator, leader, parent, or coach, you'll learn how to help others practice effectively to get results. If you're looking to achieve your own personal goals and break through to another level, you'll learn how practice can get you there.
With PRACTICE PERFECT, practice will no longer seem a mundane and maligned task, but the most powerful key to unlocking anyone's potential.
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