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Zen Jeweler: Pilgrim’s Progress

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Repetition equals proficiency. It does not equal progress. Be wary of simply repeating your successes.

 

I was at the U.S. Table Tennis Trials in Philadelphia. There you could watch repetition and the success it can bring. I watched a couple of players hit backhands to each other, one after the other with blurry speed. If you follow any sport, you know that repetition is part of practice. Then I noticed something new. Perhaps 95 percent of the players were using the “Western” grip. Years ago, Asian players (consistently the best in the world) employed the “penholder” grip. If anything, I would have expected most Americans to have adopted that style. Instead, everyone still uses the Euro-American style. Practice all you want with the wrong, old grip. Repetition equals proficiency. But leaps of progress are often attributed to the revolutionary. How do you think Roger Federer would hold up these days using Bjorn Borg’s racquet?

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