What World-Class Practice Looks Like, Part 2

One of the beautiful things about great practice is how simple it is.

This is especially true with soft skills — those improvisatory skills of reading patterns and reacting instantly to them — which show up so often in team sports and the creative arts.

Check out this video of Barcelona (aka the world’s best soccer team over the past four years) as they do their regular one-touch keep-away workout, which is called rondo.

Here’s what I like about it:

1)  It generates reps of the key skills (anticipation, quick, accurate decisions under pressure), over and over.

2) It’s played with 100 percent maximum intensity.

3) It’s really fun/addictive — check out those smiles and laughs at the end.

Xavi, Barca’s midfielder, says: “It’s all about rondos. Rondo, rondo, rondo. Every. Single. Day. It’s the best exercise there is. You learn responsibility and not to lose the ball. If you lose the ball, you go in the middle. Pum-pum-pum-pum, always one touch. If you go in the middle, it’s humiliating, the rest applaud and laugh at you.”

For this team, rondo isn’t a mere drill. It’s more like their identity.

To me, the truly interesting question is this: How do you create a culture in which this little game — not ego, not showing off, not even scoring goals — becomes the most important and valued part?

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