As a broad rule of thumb, it is perceived that reaching excellence (into the top 5 percent) in any skill or sport conforms to the ten thousand hour rule.
That’s ten thousand hour’s of our actual time to acquire the expertise of any complex task. And climbing is nothing if not complex.
To break that down further:
Ten thousand hours of practice
Is one thousand hours per year
Roughly twenty hours per week
Or nearly 3 hours per day - for the next ten years!
And furthermore, the key to accomplishment or mastery is not just the act of participation, but engaging practice that is focused and meaningful.
So why ten years? It’s a guide for the majority based on sustainability. It is difficult to engage in high quality of practice for most people for more than twenty hours per week.
But there’s great news for the majority of us. Climbing is an activity with multiple layers of gratification. We don’t need to obtain mastery, as fun, health, camaraderie and success are all bountifully available to us at every step of the way, however far we choose to take the journey.
And for those who wish to be the very best? We are now starting to recognise ways of reducing that ten thousand hour rule with specific learning triggers. There are emerging stories of excellence, especially in military specialisations, that are being regularly achieved with five thousand hours of focused practice, and that is a massive step forward. Therefore if you can afford the time and dedication of forty hours per week to your practice, it means that you could be at an elite level for certain complex activities within 3 years!
This is a topic to explore more deeply as we journey onwards.
But if you do desire to be at the top, whether it takes ten or even a mere five thousand hours, you will need to surrender to your sentence and prepare to do some serious time.