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10 Ways to Enhance the Quality of your Practice


I have always believed that it is important to be a collector of valuable resources. Resources that can help you stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish in any activity. I have been using the article below for many years. I have made changes along the way and have added my own thoughts to highlight my objectives as a coach. I have no record of who originally wrote this, but I feel confident that the main ideas are universal in business, sports programs, and any leadership relationships. Enjoy.

1) Evaluate and take responsibility for the quality of your practice.

Before practice, determine what criteria you will use to evaluate the quality of your practice. Once you have completed practice, go back over those criteria and rate how you did. Even if you did not feel 100%, did you get 100% out of whatever you had? If you did not, what could you have done to get more quality out of it? The quality of your practice is your responsibility.

2) Have a mission for practice.

Before practice, ask yourself, what do you want to say about the practice when you are finished? Be systematic in developing a specific plan and purpose for each practice.

3) Be enthusiastic.

Your excitement is infectious. Practice is an opportunity to get better. Revisit your vision and goals and remind yourself why you are working, especially when you feel you “have to” go to practice. Turn the “have to” into a “want to”.

4) Have a pre-practice routine.

There is safety in routine. There are no surprises. Just like in muscle memory, you will be more productive with your time in that routine. What time does practice begin? What does the warm up look like? How do you cool down? How do you prepare to end the day? Let this be the time when you shed yourself of your concerns, relationships, family troubles, finances, and focus on being a coach or athlete.

5) Refocus, refocus, then refocus again.

An athlete cannot be reasonably expected to remain completely focused on the practice for the entire practice. Who has the attention span for that? You will go through several bouts of distraction, boredom, frustration, and anxiety. The key skill is to consistently be aware when your focus is not where it needs to be and to have something to help bring your focus back. Ask yourself several times throughout practice “where is my focus?”  then bring your focus back to the process, the present, and the positives.

6) Simulate competition.

The most common frustration by athletes is that they can perform better in practice than in meets. A solution to this is to take occasional practice sessions and make the conditions as similar as possible to the competition.

7) Practice being confident.

Think about the best performances you’ve had. Picture your body language, what you were saying, and how you walked. Practice maintaining these behaviors during practice. Even if you are not feeling confident on the inside, if you demonstrate confidence in your mannerisms, then there is a greater chance those confident feelings will return. Sometimes you have to fake it to make it.

8) Embrace adversity.

One thing that will happen to every athlete is adversity. Welcome adversity in practice so you’ll know you can handle it better in competition.

9) Commit fully to each repetition.

If your coach instructs you to do a specific drill but you don’t commit completely to it, that drill will not fulfill its purpose. If you are not completely convinced of a drill’s effectiveness, either ask more questions or decide that you will trust that it will help and commit to it completely. You should know how this will make you better.

10)  Imagine yourself having a quality practice.

During the day imagine and experience yourself at practice being motivated to get the most out of every drill. Experience yourself working hard on the course set for that day. Feel yourself doing the skills. Daydream with purpose

Practice is more then going through the motions. If you float from activity to activity with no drive, purpose, or intentionality to your craft you will lose the goal of the practice. Each day is a day to improve. It is up to you to control the effort you give and the quality of practice you have.