“Just a little bit more” – How you can use the power of marginal gains

“Just a little bit more”

Jake White coached the Springboks to 2007 World Cup glory.  He would often give his players a theme to focus on during big games.  “Just a little bit more” was one that stood out to me.  When you think you are exhausted, give “just a little bit more”.  The margin between victory and defeat is often so narrow that digging that little bit deeper can make all the difference.

Mike Mavovana, pictured above, received the man of the match award after scoring this winning try in a big derby game.  After the match, pointing to his wrist, he showed the TV interviewer what was written on the tape, “1%“.  He explained how his coach had asked every player to give an extra 1% and said that all those little 1% extra efforts would add up into something great.

How do you make those 1% marginal gains?

Break a big task into smaller ones, improve them and then put them back together again.

There are many sporting examples of this – Team Sky, which has dominated the Tour de France in recent years (click here for more) and the same principle helped Leicester City win an unlikely Premier League title last season (click here for more).

These principles can be applied by all of us.  Think about your CA(SA) studies, break down the activities and look for slight improvements.  How do you practice tut questions?  What should you be doing to get the most learning out of lectures?  Is your weekly schedule optimal?  Is my study area fit for purpose?

Some critics point out that really “marginal gains” is nothing more than the common sense activity of looking to improve.  There is some truth to that criticism but then again how often do you find yourself doing something over and over without really evaluating its effectiveness and looking for improvements?

The power of marginal gains should not just stay on the sports field!

P.S. Tom Dawson-Squibb, who works as a high performance coach, after reading this post, pointed out the following article – The Paradox of Behaviour Change.  It makes the excellent point that if your changes are marginal, you are more likely to sustain them.  Massive changes promise a lot but can lead to burnout.


Paul Maughan

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