Upgrade Your Coaching with Deliberate Practice



Once upon a time, as a Teacher in the Teach for America Corps, our Program Managers beat a certain phrase into our heads with the unrelenting consistency of a metronome blasted through an amplifier at a KISS concert.

“Focus on your locus.”

Like any repetitive jack hammering it was, to say the least, annoying.

Focus on your locus. Focus on your locus. Focus on your locus.


Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. As ear-bleedingly repetitive as the messaging may have been, like a jackhammer, it broke through.

And the message stuck.

In the years since, I’ve found this maxim effective in nearly any realm of life, with particular potency/relevance in areas of life and domains in which chaos reigns supreme.

It turns out, there’s a lot that turning around inner-city schools, running high performance gyms, and growing/scaling tech startups have in common.

The stakes are high. Everything goes wrong. Chaos is homeostasis. Growth is the only option.

In situations like these, “focus on your locus” is as much a survival tactic as it is a strategic play.

How’s it apply to you, the Coach?

As a Coach, you don’t control who comes in your gym, you only control what happens once they arrive.

Focus on your locus.

Since “who” comes in your gym is outside your locus, “what” and “why” are the things to focus on. These are your points of leverage.

And, when speaking about what is being done in your gym on a daily basis and why it’s being done, the research and record books suggest the best coaches use a common method: Deliberate Practice.


Deliberate Practice: The Coaching Framework That Builds Champions

Before you yawn, roll your eyes, and close this article... I’m not talking about the 10,000 hour rule.

We all know the flawed research and logic in that.

For better or worse, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

As Michael Jordan said, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, all you become very good at is shooting the wrong way.”

On the quest to being your best, only perfect practice makes perfect performance.


The Deliberate Practice model we ascribe to is an approach to daily talent development that John Wooden perfected to earn the title “Best Coach of All Time,” Steph Curry leveraged to ascend from mid-round risk to consummate MVP, and history’s winningest team, the New Zealand All Blacks depend on to keep them at the top.

It’s an emphasis on being deeply intentional in your daily, monthly, and yearly activities. It’s an improved framework for your coaching that is centered around purpose and accountability and delivers consistent, accelerated results.

Deliberate Practice is about jumping out of the pattern of reactivity, chaos, and randomness that is driving you bonkers and stymying your athletes’ growth. It’s about distilling your training down to a tight loop of religiously implemented, simple principles.

Deliberate Practice is about tossing your nebulous, bullshit annual New Year’s goals out the window and focusing on getting a tiny, 1% improvement each week.

Deliberate Practice is the upgrade to your coaching operating system you need.

It’s simple, yet, when performed with consistency and in an integrated manner, devastatingly effective.

Deliberate Practice 101

Here’s a high level overview:

  • Set effective, meaningful goals
  • Deliver expert instruction
  • Execute structured training
  • Provide immediate feedback

Pretty basic, right? Yet, knowing the importance of these four ingredients is not enough.

What separates those who recognize master coaching from those who are master coaches is the ability to intelligently and perpetually weave these four elements together in harmony.

Early 1990’s cartoons knew this better than anyone. It wasn’t until wind, water, earth, fire, and heart were combined that you had Captain Planet. Keep ‘em separate and you’re left with a bunch of goofy people in spandex and some green sludge flooding a marsh.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to discuss the role each element in the Deliberate Practice model plays, how to methodically combine them as your new coaching operating system, and provide you simple, executable tools to catapult your coaching to the next level.

In the meantime, be sure to download our free resource on Deliberate Practice by clicking below: 


About The Author

Ben Crookston is the Founder and CEO of TrainHeroic. Prior to finding his home in the tech world, Ben ordered the Sampler off the career menu, teaching, coaching, and writing. He has an incredible family and back squats 500 pounds A2G.