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Three Types of Practice

The better you practice, the better you perform. This is why I like to give advice on how to practice better. For today’s post, I want to talk about three types of practice:

  1. One-on-one teaching
  2. Repetitive training
  3. Game simulation

The first type of practice is what I call “one-on-one teaching.”  This is where where you slow practice down and focus on the small details of the fundamentals. This is the type of practice you need to correct flaws in your technique and raise your game to the next level from a technical standpoint. As the name implies, “one-on-one teaching” usually requires a coach that gives you specific and immediate feedback and instructions, however, sometimes athletes are able to coach themselves while working on their fundamentals. 

The second type of practice, which I’m calling “repetitive training,” is pretty self-explanatory. This is where you complete many repetitions in order to increase your muscle memory and master your skills. However, this doesn’t mean just mindlessly repeating the same drills over and over again. To get the most out of this kind of training, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, physically and mentally. This is where is helps to speed things up and make your drills more challenging. It also greatly helps to receive feedback from a coach so you can learn from your mistakes and improve your skills.

Lastly, the most advanced form of practice is what I call “game simulation.” It doesn’t matter how well you learn and master your skills in practice if you can’t apply them in real games. In order to transfer what you learn in practice to games, you need to simulate game conditions in practice. This means you need to make parts of your practice more realistic to games. Here are four ways to make your practices more realistic:

  1. Practice the actual skills that you use in games.
  2. Practice actually playing the game (scrimmages).
  3. Practice at game speed and intensity.
  4. Practice under pressure.

One of the best ways to simulate games is to do situational drills, where you practice specific situations that you face in games. This is a very efficient way to practice since it’s much less time consuming than playing an entire scrimmage. 

Overall, the more realistic you make your drills and scrimmages, the better you’ll perform in games. However, just because game simulation is the most advanced type of practice doesn’t mean it should be the only way to practice. Each type of practice has its pros and cons, therefore each one is needed to maximize the development of athletes. There’s a time to work on the fundamentals. There’s a time to train repetitively. And there’s a time to simulate game conditions. The best coaches and athletes know how to properly balance these three types of practice. I personally believe that coaches should dedicate roughly 33% of practice time to each one of these types of practice. However, these numbers can of course be adjusted depending on the specifics of the situation.

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