You’ve heard the cliche’ before: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Fact is, this is only true if you’re practicing the right stuff. There are so many athletes who invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into their training and then are left confused as to why all thiS practicing doesn’t pay off when they compete. For some inexplicable reason, their great technique, timing and execution does a disappearing act whenever the game is on the line. What gives?
Those athletes who really get the most out of their practice sessions do so because they are engaging in ‘PERFECT PRACTICE.” What’s perfect practice? It’s when you practice the things and circumstances that you are most likely going to need and have to deal with in your actual, competitions. For example, if there is a likelihood of you having to compete in foul weather, perfect practice means that you go out of your way to regularly train in extremes of weather, especially those that you really hate! If there is a certain kind of opponent who really annoys you, whose style of play gives you fits, then find some practice partners just like them and consistently train against them!
Perfect practice best prepares you to easily transfer your hard work in daily practice to the pressure and intensity of competition because whenever you practice “perfect practice,” you are regularly working on mastering those things that tend to emotionally knock you off track when the chips are on the line. For example, the golfer who stands on the range and hits 100 drives in a row isn’t helping himself as much as he would if he followed one drive with the expected second shot and followed this with the appropriate club and swing for a projected third shot, etc. By deliberately making some part of your practices closely resemble the emotional, physical and mental demands of competition, you will get more out of your training and therefore, improve faster.
If competing against cheaters makes you see red, find a cheater or two to occasionally train with. If you hate running or competing in the wind and cold, be sure to mark those weather conditions as “must train” days. If you tend to collapse and mentally give up when you’re tired, make your training sessions include hard cardio work first, so that you then begin your practices already winded. If you tend to choke or fall apart under pressure, then have your coach regularly set up pressure-filled training sessions for you.
Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect! PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!