I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book "Outliers" and I thought it was very relevant for basketball since it deals with success and why successful people are so successful. There are some gross over-generalizations made by Gladwell which make the book not so great overall, but I'll spare you those details and reveal the gist of the book which comes down to the 10,000 Hour Rule created by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University.

What Is the 10,000 Hour Rule?

The 10,000 Hour Rule is what it is. It is the idea that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master any skill.

For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in whatever subject area. Or, it would take approximately 5 years of full-time employment to become proficient in your field. You simply formulate how many hours you have already achieved and calculate how far you still need to go. At the end, you need to aim for at least 10,000 hours as a minimum.

There are plenty of real world examples of the 10,000 Hour Rule like Tiger Woods, Warren Buffett, Winston Churchill, etc... Some skeptics argue that all it takes is innate talent. But talent alone won't ensure success. What all of the most successful people in the world share, is a tremendous work ethic. Bill Gates? Practiced with computers since grade school. Bobby Fischer, the 16-year-old chess grandmaster? Nine years of intensive study every day. For basketball, you would point to what appears to be the God-given abilities of Michael Jordan. But if Jordan was so innately gifted, why was he cut from the Varsity team in high school? MJ's success then, has as much to do with busting his hump as it did his physical abilities. In other words, if it wasn't for MJ's work ethic, he probably would not have played in college let alone the NBA.

Now all of this may sound common sense, ie. duh, of course practice makes perfect. But what the 10,000 hour rule does is that it puts a number to success. It quantifies your goal so that there is something tangible to achieve. So in basketball practices, there should always be a quantifiable goal to achieve.

And it's not just simply practice, but practicing the right way. For example, there are loads of people who hit buckets of balls at the driving range every day, but the difference between those hacks and the pros is correct instruction. The same for basketball, learn the fundamentals, then go practice for hours on end. That is the secret to success.