The Little Book of Talent is a short, straight-forward book with very good advice on skill building. Recommended. Here are some of my highlights:

– Before practicing, use a few minutes to look into role models for inspiration
– Practice in “spartan” (or barebones) type of places – it helps you focus
– Hard skills: skills you need to execute with precision every time
– Soft skills: skills where you need to adapt and tweak the practice
– For a skill, always drill to the fundamentals – like Tom Brady in American football
– Prioritize the hard part of the skill – e.g. playing the notes in the violin vs. getting the feeling of the music (that’s the soft part)
– Pros practice the hard skills first – footwork in football, single notes in piano, etc. They’re the foundation – first build the trunk, then build the branches.
– If you look for a mentor (and you should) look for people who are action oriented and that can be honest about your performance. It’s a plus if you’re even a bit afraid of them out of respect.
– Seek teachers that are obsessed on fundamentals.
– Other things equal, look for older coaches.
– When practicing, spend as much time as possible in the sweet spot – you should aim for a 50-80% success rate, if more or less you’re either taking it too light or too hard
– Some golfers practice their swing underwater.
– If you could try your outmost best, what could you do? Aim a bit more than that.
– Instead of practicing an amount of hours, focus on complete repetitions.
– What’s the smallest subdivision of the skill you can master? Focus on that first – then another subdivision, and then in their interconnections.
– Your brain works like a muscle – no pain no gain.
– It’s better to practice five minutes every day than one hour once a week.
– World class performers spend five times more than others practicing alone.
– Don’t drill, game it on – give yourself points for the amount of times you hit the right chords, and then compare week on week.
– Think in images or metaphors – it will help you remember each of the subdivision of the skills.
– When you make a mistake, be on it immediately – mistakes are guideposts for improvement.
– Visualize the wires of your brain making connections – and visualize them getting faster. They should be high speed broadband.
– Practice in small spaces, or give yourself constrains – 140 characters a la Twitter, practice football in the bathroom, etc.
– Practice in super slow motion once a while.
– Close your eyes for the physical skills – including yoga, martial arts, etc. It helps you get into the zone.
– Take a 20-90 min naps after practice.
– Don’t fear the guy who tried 10.000 kicks – fear the one that tried one kick 10.000 times
– For every hour of competition spend five hours practicing.
– The minimum effective dose for skill building is eight weeks – that’s when you get the brain connections.
– You plateau when you start going on autopilot. To get off of the plateau, get out of autopilot by going either faster or slower – forcing yourself out of the comfort zone.