So, what is the difference between practice and play?
Practice is work…hard work. It is designed for you to work on various aspects of your game. This includes your physical stamina, your cardiovascular conditioning and the various sport-specific skills necessary to compete well in your particular sport. During practice, you get input from your coaches regarding what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. You learn various plays and what your role and responsibility is in carrying out those plays. Hopefully, attention is also paid to the mental aspects of your sport development such as keeping unwanted emotions and negative thoughts from interfering with your performance. During practice, your focus should be on how to improve both the physical and mental aspects of your game. Practice is where you work on this.
Playing is different from practice. Playing a game, no matter what the sport, should be play, not work. Having a game or a match should be … TIME to PLAY. The work is over. Practice is done. The focus should not be on the development of your game. It’s time to PLAY. Let it go…..have some fun! Enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you are playing in a game, let the mistakes go. Do not dwell on your mistakes or even work on them. Of course you can review what you did when you missed a shot or muffed a play. But the less time you think about that mistake and the more time you focus on the current game situation, the better you will play. Making mistakes in a game will always occur and is an expected part of the game. How well you can do this is related to a concept called mental toughness. In large part, mental toughness is determined by how well you let go of mistakes and how well you regain your poise and excel in spite of your mistakes.
So…practice hard….but when it’s game time….play the game. You’ve never heard anyone say, “Hey, let’s go watch the Rangers “work a game.” We say, “let’s go watch the Rangers play a game.” Practice is work, playing is just that….play. Enjoy it…you’ll play better.
Stay tuned for some more “HeadTalk” from the Doc.
If you are interested in discussing your “Head” issue with Fred, you can contact him here or on his website: www.ProFormance-inc.com.
Using your Head to Stay in the Game.