Key to success in any field is practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Players must train/play football for at least 10,000 hours before reaching world-class status.

Parque do Ibirapuera

In 2010 I read a book that changed my life forever. It changed how I looked at footballers. It changed how I looked at successful athletes, and it changed how I looked at every person who has reached success.

Outliers was so powerful because it challenged everything I thought I knew about getting better. Of course I knew I had to train to get better, but for how long? How much? How do you get on the level of the best? MessiRonaldoRibery, what did they do to get so damn good?

Those questions were answered when I turned to the page in the book and read the line the: “10,000 hour rule”.

What the author Malcolm Gladwell explained was quite amazing. He said that the key to success in any field a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. In other words, as players we must train/play football for at least 10,000 hours before we reach world class status, the level of top of Premier League players for example.

After reading the book, what I did next was something many of you would consider kind of crazy. I literally doubled/tripled my training schedule so that I was training at least 20 hours a week. At least 12 of these hours each week were spent grudgingly at the local football field with just my boots and a ball. In the snow, wind, rain, sunshine it didn’t matter, I would set out to complete these 20 hours every single week. If I missed an hour, I would punish myself double the hours I missed the next week! It took some really hard self discipline. I remember this one week in Summer I was holidaying with my family in France. The week before I left, I was lazy with the amount of hours I trained, so I forced myself to do over 40 hours of training the next week with most of it doing dribbles, shots and passes on an old concrete basketball court in the hotel resort (mostly on my own).

10,000 hours = 3 hours a day, 20 hours a week for 10 years

That hard work finally started to show signs of paying off and I definitely didn’t stop once I started getting better. I continued this kind of hourly based schedule for 3 more YEARS and saw improvement, improvement and more improvement.

Of course, specifically what you do in those hours is extremely important. It’s always important to have a plan of what you’ll do in your training for maximum effectiveness, but that’s something this training program teaches.

Look deep into the biography of any top player and you’ll find that they played and played for hours and hours everyday. In the streets, at home, in their garden or at school, leading to the accumulation of 10,000 hours of focused, dedicated time on their game. Cristiano Ronaldo played all day, everyday until the sun came down in his hometown of Madeira. Ultimately, what gets you playing all that football is passion and your love of the game.

Any of you out there think you’ve played over 10,000 hours? To put it in perspective, if you played one game and trained three times per week for 1.5 hours every week from age 6 – 18, your total number of hours by age 18 is just over 4,000… and that doesn’t even take into account season breaks and injuries. 10,000 hours = practicing an average of 3 hours a day, 20 hours a week for 10 years.

So, how many hours have you completed?

Nick Humphries, 25, is a footballer who played in England (Wimbledon), Scotland (Montrose), Holland (Volendam), Hungary (Vasas) as well as with the Australian U20 national team. At 16 years of age, he was just an average amateur player with limited skills. Only one year later he was offered $120k+ in scholarships. Two years later he received a contract to play professionally in Europe. How did he get better? He trained in his own way! Learn more about the training program he’s creating to help players improve on their own terms.