“repetitio mater studiorum est”
(Latin proverb: “repetition is the mother of learning”)
Practice is important for strengthening, conditioning and skill development. Often overlooked is another purpose — development of “muscle memory.” Through a practice session of diligent replication, a conscious movement transcends into a subconscious one. Without this type of special learning, good rhythm and timing that consistently hold up under pressure become impossible. This is why skilled soldiers drill, veteran baseball players take batting practice and professional golfers hit thousands of practice balls. Once the necessary skills have been developed or refined, practice has just begun. Repetition is necessary to build and maintain muscle memory.
“Practice is the best of all instructors.” — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC)
“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” — Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852)
Another form of practice is visualization. Serious golfers learn to visualize the excellent shot they intend to hit. Unfortunately the opposite works, too. Think of how many times a bad shot has been followed with, “I knew I was gonna do that!”
“Losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success.” — Unknown
In the musical “The Music Man” a traveling salesman, posing as a music teacher, attempts to buy time for his crooked scheme to sell musical instruments and band uniforms by instructing the would-be students to “think” the Minuet in G. It worked! No, the kids didn’t learn to play anything. But, he got the extra time he needed.
The “think system” really can work as a practice technique. Professionals in various disciplines include it as part of their practice regimen. Note that it is not intended to replace the hard work of repetition. It is an enhancement that separates champions from the rest.
“I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.” — Jim Carrey
“I visualize things in my mind before I have to do them. It is like having a mental workshop.” — Jack Youngblood
“I’ve discovered that numerous peak performers use the skill of mental rehearsal of visualization. They mentally run through important events before they happen.” — Charles A. Garfield
It seems unnecessary to elaborate on the importance of committing to regular practice (i.e. repetition). What is needed and may not be obvious, is a reminder about the importance of good judgment regarding what and how to practice.
“The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.” — Ernest Dimnet
“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” — Bible, Galatians 6:7
“Make sure you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you.” — Jerry Gillies
“No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.” — John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)
Finally, practice is not just for athletic and entertaining endeavors. It is a necessary discipline for all of life.
“Practice, the master of all things.” — Augustus Octavius
“What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill
© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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