Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

This quote is mainly used in the military field but I find that it may be applied to many other different areas of expertise.

In every skill you try to master, you must always start slow. Walk before you can run.  Perfect every detail.

Here’s a great example that Anders Ericsson gives in his book: Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

American swimmer Natalie Coughlin realized that she’d been wasting a major opportunity. Instead of letting her mind wander, she could be focusing on her technique, trying to make each stroke as close to perfect as possible. In particular, she could be working on sharpening her mental representations of her stroke – figuring out exactly how her body feels during a “perfect” stroke.

Once she had a clear idea of what that ideal stroke felt like, she could notice when she deviated from that ideal. For example, if she was tired. – And then work on ways to minimize those deviations and keep her strokes as close to ideal as possible.

Practice each movement, each one done correctly, time and again, until excellence in every detail becomes a firmly ingrained habit.


Even in sports like bodybuilding or long-distance running, where much of the practice consists of seemingly mindless, repetitive actions, paying attention performing those actions the right way will lead to greater improvement.

Researchers who had studied long-distance runners have found that amateurs tend to tend to daydream or think about more pleasant subjects to take their minds off the pain and strain of their running, while elite long-distance runners remain attuned to their bodies so that they can find the optimal pace and make adjustments to main the best pace throughout the whole race.

In bodybuilding, if you are going to attempt to lift a weight at the max of your current ability, you need to prepare before the lift and be completely focused during the lift.

Learning to engage in this way – consciously developing and refining your skills – is one of the most powerful ways to improve the effectiveness of your practice.


If your mind is wandering or you’re relaxed and just having fun, you won’t improve nearly as much as if you were focused on each individual movement. 


Work Smarter, Not Harder


If you think this is only useful for athletes, think again: This mentality is key to improve any type of skill.

For example:

Want to improve your speech clarity? 

Slow down. Focus on pronouncing every syllable correctly and clearly.

People call you clumsy?

Slow down your movements and your breathing when you’re feeling anxious and eventually, you’ll start to do this naturally.



Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Use this as your mantra every time you are practicing something or when you’re feeling anxious. Repeat it over again.

With time, you’ll begin to realize that perfecting even the smallest habits you have, can have a major impact in your life. Try it!

Slow is smooth, smooth is Fast!