Yesterday, a Japanese high school won the 2015 Little League World Series final, after training 10-2 after the first inning. They came back to win 18-11.
How does a team like that practice?
The Secret To Japan's Little League Success: 10-Hour Practices
"This is the Japanese way of doing sports, the same in karate as in baseball," he told me. "It emphasizes what we call konjo, or grit and tenacity. Repetition is important. You've got to repeat movements until you master them."
That is every sports team in Japan. A short kendo practice, for old timers returned to the sport, was 90 minutes. The kendo club kids did 2 or so hours of kendo after school, ate dinner, and then came to the 90 minute class.
The seriously competitive teams - especially in high school baseball* - put in those 10 hour days on weekends and practice for hours each day. The team members will also practice on their own.
But it's the value of continued practice. On one end of the spectrum is the minimum - which is always worth doing, if that's all you have time for. On the other end, you get the point of diminishing returns. But even at the extreme ends, the extra practice adds up.
Fitness and sport ability are skills. It's a question of putting in enough quality time. Even if the 10-hour practices aren't efficient, they do drill home the value of putting in your time. You get through the good practices, the ones where you struggle, the ones where you just want to go home. You put in your time and keep working on your fundamental skills.
Practice really does matter.
* When you hear "high school baseball" think "college basketball in March." That's how popular it is in Japan.