Few practice ideas have caught on like the concept of “everydays” – your team doing important skills in repetitive doses every single day. So you might be amazed to discover 3 reasons they’re not helping your team!
If you’re a believer in “muscle memory” or a fan of the 10,000-hour rule, then you’ll be shocked to learn 3 reasons these concepts don’t work.
Humans are definitely herd animals and therefore we find comfort and safety in following the crowd. We not only follow the crowd physically by wondering why everyone’s standing in that line (what do they know that we don’t), but we also follow it in what we know and how we teach. It’s currently very popular to quote the 10,000-hour rule which we think states that to be good at something you need to do it at least 10,000 times. And we also fall back on the commonly used phrase “muscle memory” to support our need to have our players repeat skills over and over and over again.
From those two main concepts we’ve created a common practice we call “everydays” which are usually 3-5 key skills that are important to a specific group of players that are repeated in large quantities every single day. For instance, infielders might do 10 forehands, backhands and short hops 3 times through, while outfielders might do flyballs to their left, right and over their heads. Pitchers will do their “spins” and catchers might block balls to their left, right and middle. All of these are very basic skills repeated in high quantities.
On the surface, these ideas sound solid and make everyone feel like they’re really putting in the work to get better at these core skills. And yet, research tells us that’s not the case at all.
Currently learning studies reveal that simply doing something over and over again does not make you better. In fact, 3 elements must exist for your players to improve and grow their skills so that they are better in games. Keep in mind, being good in practice isn’t the aim of practicing. Our entire goal for practicing is to be better in games.
The first 2 reasons that “everydays” aren’t making our players better revolve around the notion of what it takes for players to refine and develop their skills. A player cannot improve (refine) or grow (develop) their skill if:
- They are practicing what they already know how to do
- They are practicing in an environment that does not challenge them
In other words, if their “everydays” are boring because they already know how to do them, and aren’t happening in a situation that challenges them (meaning sometimes they’ll screw them up) your players won’t get better. It’s also why you might have to spend time reminding them to “focus” or “pay attention, these are important”. When anyone does anything that doesn’t challenge them their mind wanders.
That brings me to reason #3 why our “everydays” aren’t working, and that’s a fantastic concept I first heard from James Clear:
- It’s not the work, it’s the Re-Work that matters
Here’s what he means. Simply doing mindless repetitions, like our “everydays”, is technically work, but it doesn’t involve any evaluation, improvement, adjustment or anything else that the game will require of us to do in order to make that skill better the next time we have to use it. When work is done in a game, it’s usually of the re-work kind, meaning you have to mentally be engaged before and during the play. You have to make calculations of how to use that particular skill based on things like speed, distance, runners, score, etc…There are lots of factors that go into making your next play better than your last one – and that’s what re-work is all about. It’s that mental engagement in what you’re doing to make it better than what you just did.
In fact, Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000-hour concept actually states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in the field. As Daniel Coyle stated, Deliberate Practice is revision – if you aren’t paying close enough attention to improve or revise your next attempt, then you aren’t being deliberate.
A lot of teams put in their 10,000 hours or reps or everdays, but very few put in 10,000 revised and deliberate hours – make sure you’re one of those!!
In the next Softball Excellence Insider I’ll discuss examples of “everydays” that will carry-over to games!
For more help making your practices better, check out the following: