“Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice make perfect”
A friend today said something that I thought was pretty dang awesome. He said "Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect". Turns out this is a quote from Vince Lombardi, and he was a pretty dang good coach so there must be something to it.
This is a really good way to look at things. What this means is that if you are practicing something wrong, when it counts you will be performing it wrong as well. Look at kick boxing for example, if you are just kicking and punching without paying any attention to your form, then when you are actually fighting you will be doing the same bad form. Why would you think it would be otherwise? When you are practicing anything you should be practicing it in excellence. That way what you are doing becomes second nature, it is then ingrained in you.
Does this mean that you need to know how to perfectly execute any exercise you do? No, It means you do it to the best of your abilities and knowledge and continue to improve as you learn more. Let's go back to the kick boxing example. You have been in a class and learning how to kick and punch, but so far your knee still goes a little too far forward on the kicks and the punches lack in strength. But so far you do understand how to lean for your kick and you understand to keep a slightly bend elbow when you punch. So when you practice you use the techniques you do know how to use. Once you get those down you will start to understand more subtleties to your kicks and punches and you with then incorporate that. There are actually a lot of nuances you will learn in anything you do, but you will not know them all at first. You do the best that you can with what you do know. If you have a certain understanding of the moves and you choose to get sloppy because you are tired, then you are just ingraining that bad form in yourself. Instead if you are too tired, do something else instead or go really slow.
Because we are in such a fast paced society it is easy to just skip the slow parts of the learning process and go straight to the quick motions. Slow movements are over looked way too often, but they are so important. When you go slow you can really take the time to understand how to do whatever exercising you are learning to do, and despite what many people think, many slow and controlled workouts can be just as much work as their fast counter parts. Take your time, understand what you are doing before you go into turbo speed. You will actually shorten the learning curve by taking it slow at first. You can see examples of people skipping this step in every sport, but you have probably seen it often in the gym. Have you seen someone lifting too much, too fast and instead of a good solid steady form they are swinging their backs around to get the weight where they want it to be? That is what I am talking about with too much, too fast. This does not look cool, it looks like the person does not know what the heck they are doing. Go slow first, you just look smarter that way.
Envision yourself in a situation you are preparing for. If you are in a soccer league, then when you are doing drills and practicing think of yourself playing an actual game. If you are doing boxing drills then think of yourself in the ring against an opponent. What if you mess up? So what keep going. If you are practicing a sport and you mess up on the field you will not get the chance to reset, so roll with it, this will give you real experience of the real thing. If you are practicing drills for soccer what would you do if you messed up on the field? You would attempt to recover, so do it during practice as well.
If you want to be good at something then give it your all. Half hearted attempts yield half hearted results. You have it in you to accomplish anything you want, so go for it!