Does Practice Make Perfect?

Quote: "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." -  Vince Lombardi

Does Practice Make Perfect?  Depends on how you look at it.

We have all heard the saying that practice makes perfect.  To answer that question, practice makes perfect is only partially true.  What I am going to say based on my training experiences that other things happen before your practice makes perfect.

Practice Makes Perfect

These relates to any skill you are trying to attain regardless of the field it is in.  Here are the things that happen first.

  • You will practice incorrectly.
  • You will practice the skill till you get it correct.
  • You will practice the correct skill on a consistent basis.

Practicing Incorrectly

When you are trying to learn a new skill, you will be shown how to do it by someone more experienced and knowledgeable than you are.  You will then be left on your own to try and use the skills you have been taught.  But you will find a lot of the time your manager will come back and show the errors you have made in your practice.

I experienced this when I was shown in Close Quarter Combat training how to apply a temporary hold called a wrap following on from a striking combination.  After training, I went home, made some notes and practiced 3 times during the week till the next training session.

The next training session came a week later and I showed my instructor what I had been practicing.  I was frustrated when I could not make the skills work.  He showed me the errors I was making and how to correct them.  Talk about being humbled.  Again I paid attention and took down notes on how to practice correctly.

Practicing till you get the Skill Correct

You know what the correct skills are, but you are still doing this in a conscious mindset.  The mistakes previously have been minimised, but you are starting to become more competent in the performance of your skills.  You still cannot perform the correct skills like you know the back of your hand.  Practicing often enough consciously you will eventually be able to practice the skills correctly in a subconscious manner.

Practicing the Correct Skill on a Consistent Basis

This is the stage where you are practicing the correct skills on a consistent basis.  You are very familiar with the skills and can perform them well with less effort when you were practicing on a conscious basis.  Once you have reached this stage, make sure you practice these skills on a regular basis and then start the process all over again by making the effort to learn new skills.

My Story

I was learning how to practice a close quarter combat technique called a Wrap.  This is a temporary restraining hold that allows you to restrain an opponent before moving on to a takedown.

Practicing Incorrectly

My instructor showed and explained how to do the technique then said for me to try it.  I kept performing the technique incorrectly because I knew I could not successfully restrain and take my training partner’s balance.  My mistakes were pointed out and what to do to correct them was shown and explained to me.  Despite this I would still be practicing the skill incorrectly for several months.

Learning to Practice Correctly

I made notes on my errors and corrections and started practicing on a regular basis thinking about the correct technique.  I was beginning to practice correctly because I knew my Wrap was starting to work the way it was supposed to.  But I was still making mistakes and getting frustrated about it.  At least I was making progress.

Practicing Correctly on a Consistent Basis

I reviewed my notes and still practiced on my own on a regular basis.  I have now able to apply the correct technique on a regular basis.  With new found confidence I have taken my training to a higher level.  I can now take that skill and apply it in various scenarios.

Summary

It does not matter what field you are learning a skill in, what matters is using the same principle when it comes to mastering a new skill. Before practice makes perfect, you will practice incorrectly, then practice correctly followed by practicing correctly on a consistent basis.

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