First, the cliché phrase was “Practice makes perfect”.
Then the cliché evolved to “Perfect practice makes perfect”.
I don’t aim for perfection in my gym, but rather a perfecting attitude. In my mind, perfection is finite whereas perfecting means that we’re constantly working toward getting better. As a coach, I understandably put a lot of thought into the merits of practice: are they working, is the team getting better, what can the coaches do better? According to this article from Psychology Today, Some Ways to Practice Are More Perfect Than Others. Here are four ways we can make sure are practices are perfecting our players.
4 requirements of purposeful practice
- More practice yields more learning. It sounds simple, but for those players who want to be really good at what they do…practice is the key. Getting to the upper limits of a player’s ability will require time and patience…but mostly time to get those reps in.
- Mindful repetitions. These days, age group sports are an economic force…with parents paying big bucks to make sure their child gets better and gets seen and (hopefully) gets a scholarship. While I’ll stand by the idea that more practice is better than no practice, I believe that mindful practice is much better than unfocused practice. It’s not just getting touches on the ball/reps in the pool/intervals on the track, it’s understanding where corrections need to be made and making each rep better than the last.
- Top notch coaching. That’s us! Again, I believe that age group sports are great…in theory. If the coach is just letting the players drill without correction, that’s not the best situation. And if they haven’t figured out how to effectively give coaching cues, that’s also not the best situation for player development. Without proper coaching, the players are left to repetitively perform the skill incorrectly. But with top notch coaches, a player can get immediate corrective feedback, which will hopefully result in their becoming a better player.
- Learn to self-coach. All of this leads to the player being able to self-correct. My ultimate goal with each class is that I become less and less important. When they come in as freshman, my players are pretty reliant on me…but as they progress through their careers, they become more autonomous. More able to recognize what to do in each situation and more able to process through the appropriate response to what an opponent is presenting. It’s not that I stop coaching my older players, it’s that the coaching can become more and more complex.
Saying all of that, I guess the new cliché phrase can be “Practice makes perfecting players.”
If you found this post interesting, you should check out The Secrets To Greatness Are Within Your Control.