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Strategies to Practice with Intent...Part 1

Intention Drives Attention - Build a Strategy to help your development!

​Development Cycle

I call this diagram the Development wheel - I didn’t invent it, but just put the diagram together to make it clear…and lets be clear, it is a cycle - if you forget a step at some point the cycle is broken and there is potentially a missed opportunity.

Let’s begin with the review phase and call it step 1. But first off a WARNING!!! I highly recommend avoiding the dreaded car ride home routine of grilling yourself (or your kids) over the most recent game or practice. This has been shown as one of the biggest things that kids dread in sport, and a contributor to sport becoming less fun…and eventually wanting to quit. So parents, hold your thoughts - the car ride home isn’t the place. Kids, if your parents are grilling you and you don’t like it, let them know!


Step 1. Once you have given your last performance some time to marinate and sink in and you are ready to do your review, start by picking out the things that you did well before you move on to the mistakes - write them down. When you move on to the mistakes you may have made, try to really break down what led to the mistake - get clarity. Was it an awareness mistake, a decision error, or simply an execution error. Once you have identified what type of error it was, you can then pick out some work ons. And again, here is the big step - write it down! (a performance journal is a great spot for it).

Now, as with anything, the more often you do it the easier it becomes to do. So build in a habitual time to do your review - preferably before bed time, so you aren't replaying your mistakes and have trouble going to sleep. More on this is a later post...

Moving on, once you are on to step 2 it gets rather easy. If you know your work-ons (these could stem from past mistakes - or simply something you want continue to get better at), make a plan of when you are going to work on them.

For example, maybe your coach gives you 10 minutes at the start of practice (free time), this would be a good time to work on a certain skill to help you execute it better within the practice itself. Maybe you want to work on your awareness so you make a note to scan for important information during every drill or game within the practice. It could be whatever, but what is important is that YOU know what you are working on. If you are real serious about it, you might want to tell somebody else what you are working on (ie. a coach, player or parent). This will help to get more feedback potentially on whatever it is you are working on. Now you are stating to take control of your development - nice work.

Step 3. Prepare…it is getting progressively easier now. Simply review your plan before your practice/training or game that is upcoming so you know it before stepping into your competitive/development environment. At higher levels, most players have a routine that they have before practices or games…if you think about it you probably do too. I suggest now building in a short mental prep time where you review what you’re plan was (if you have a journal, you could flip through it quickly - because you wrote it down. Simple as that, know the plan before performance begins.

Step 4. Perform. Just go out and perform your plan within the training, practice or game. The mindset you have will be important here as well, more on that in another email.

Then it all begins again...as a cycle does. Review, plan, prepare, perform, repeat.

As I mentioned earlier, the more often you do this the easier it will get.

Until next time, enjoy the process, keep working hard and having fun!

Doug and the Zeal Sports Performance team


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