I was watching a video recently about an Olympic athlete talking about their training. Right before they went to the last Olympics, they had a training session and, in their words, “was like a trainwreck’. They, of course, want to go to the Olympics in peak condition to have the best chance of winning and the worry was that they were behind in their progress. Their coach, however, had some great advice to give. She said when you are training at your upper levels of performance, not every session is going to be perfect and called it “the rule of three”. Out of three sessions, one is going to be fantastic, another is moderate, and the other is a subpar session. The point is that peak execution is not a linear progression, and some days you won’t achieve your best, but you are making great progress.
This “rule of three” applies when I am practising piano. As I push myself to improve means that some days, there are sessions where everything seems easy flows and the play comes naturally, then other sessions go OK and others where I stink! I recognise that as the brain and fingers are
making new habits and pushing my limits, not every practice session will be as smooth as I want, so I don’t beat myself up.
As you progress in something challenging, it’s good to know that Olympic athletes go through the same as we do and are just human too.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if your practice isn’t as good as you like, nor should you be too overconfident when it goes brilliantly. Just take each session as a stepping-stone towards excellence.
Another thing to remember is that your level of performance in a frustrating session today is something that you could only dream about a year ago.