Random Practice

Last year Denis Paumier sparked a bit of a debate within the company. He told us he had started doing more and more what he called “Random Practice”, i.e., jumping from prop to prop and/or trick to trick, contravening our accustomed “low to high numbers, one prop at a time” method.

It seemed to make sense, to refresh one’s brain with something completely different, and to revisit tricks during the same practice session. So we tried for a bit, and still now we play with it occasionally (although I have to admit to stick more often to the “traditional” method).

But, is there any evidence of random practice being useful? Or is it one of those psychological tricks that we play to ourselves?

Well, it seems like there is some truth to it. The New York Times has published an interesting article debunking some commonly believed good study habits. For example, it turns out it is better to alternate study locations rather than having a specific place for it.

Also, research shows that Interleaved practice (that’s the scientific term, as opposed to random…) improves performance.

“Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work. Many athletes, too, routinely mix their workouts with strength, speed and skill drills.”

Although studies haven’t been made specifically to juggling it’s not too adventurous to say that our friend Denis was right all along!

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