The vast amount of researchon the topic of peak performers shows that there is a single underlying theme all winners have in common. Practice. No matter what the specialty, practice is at the heart of every person successful in their field. But how much practice is enough?

Neuroscientist and musician Daniel Levitin believes that the magic number is 10,000.

In his book, This is Your Brain on Music, Levitin says, “The emerging picture of [research] is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything.”

He goes on to point out that “in study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players… and what have you, this number comes up again and again.” He reports that no one has yet found a single case where true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

This doesn’t mean everyone who practices for 10,000 hours will become world-class. But those who have what it takes must practice that long before they reach that level of success, say Levitin and others who studied similar research, such as Malcolm Gladwell.

So how much practice is that, in the real-world life of a DanceSport athlete?

Three hours a day, five days a week adds up to 780 hours a year. At this rate, it would take you over 12 years to get there. Those who slack off and practice just two hours each day need a whopping 20 years to reach the same level. Many of the best dancers practice three to four hours each day, six days a week. At this rate, expect to hit the magic 10,000 hours in about nine years. And yes, it’s okay to take breaks from time to time. The human body needs them to function properly.

But remember that every time you miss a practice session, some of your competitors may be getting a little closer to that 10,000 hour goal than you are.

Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

More posts by George Pytlik

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