I get a lot of questions about my practicing techniques. The most common questions are how long to I practice, how do I not burn out, and what do I practice?
The biggest thing to realize about practicing is that it’s NOT about seeing results right away. Over time you’ll see them, but hardly ever do you start seeing amazing results in one practice session. Think about going to the gym. Over six months to a year you’ll see results, not after the first 20 minutes. So I look at practice like just something I need to do each day and I know someday I’ll see the desired results.
Everything you work on isn’t equal though. For example, a pinky count took me a few weeks to get the mechanics, and another 2-3 months to get it perfected. A bottom deal took 1 year to get the mechanics down and another 4 years to perfect it. And the second deal… well, I almost quit working on that countless times. I never saw any results. A few years ago, I took my own advice and just continued practicing it not worrying about how awful it looked. And sure enough after another 6 months to a year it really started to come together.
The point is to never expect any instant results. Practice and think you’re one day closer to mastering whatever it is you’re working on. Sometimes it’s 20 days, sometimes its 2,000 days.
Also, I like to create a nice environment to practice in. I don’t want to be at a cluttered desk or on a couch leaning forward to use a coffee table. I have three places in my home I can practice. My favorite place is my card room. I use an old 1950’s leather top card table with gold trim. In front of the table is a 4-foot by 4-foot mirror. I have about 2000 decks within arms reach and the finest close-up mat is always out and ready to use. This way anytime I want to practice everything is ready to go. I’d be less likely to practice if I had to set the table up, get a mirror, find the cards, etc. I do the same thing with the other two places in my home. They’re always ready. It’s very relaxing to sit and have a drink and practice for a few hours.
I typically practice for a few hours almost everyday—sometimes more, sometimes less. Often times my practice is broken up over the day. And, I’ll work on lots of different things over the course of that amount of time. I make a list of the things I want to improve. For example, right now I’m working on riffle stacking, double dukes, a new shuffle sequence, and a few new effects I created. I also stay on top of moves I can already do. All of my sleights and effects need maintenance. So right now centers, seconds, Greeks, and bottoms are on the list of things to practice. Definitely don’t practice one thing for 5 hours. That’s how I avoid burning out. You want your practice time to be enjoyable.
So that’s it. Make a list of things you want to improve, find some time during the day and work on all of it, not just one thing. Create a nice practice environment and enjoy it!
One more note: Congratulations to Salomon Vainstein and Cristian Razvan. They are the latest winners of the Confident Deceptions DVD set and a deck of Nomads from Theory 11. There’s another contest running right now on my Facebook page. Good luck!