Perfecting Your Practice

Featuring Branon Dempsey Posted on April 7, 2008

Well not exactly, but you do become more familiar and proficient in your skill-set. Because time is the most valuable commodity, we desire to make the most of it. How about perfecting your practice time?

You may call me an outdoor sports junkie. Sports has always been a part of my life as well as the injuries. I’ve played a lot in the past, but even more so, I have revisited my love for the game and process of golf. Whether I’m on the range or in the fairway, or in between, I play about 2-4 times per week.

This past weekend I re-learned a new concept: visualization and evaluation; they are key mental factors to any athletic motion. Simply, before you perform a shot, visualize the target and visualize seeing yourself in the approach, swing and follow-through. The main purpose for the range is to rehearse your game, while the course is your game to have fun. Most people use the range as their only attempt for golf. A built in instinct says “grip-it-and-rip-it.” People spend hours on end rehearsing the same bad shots without paying attention to what the body (not the ball) is actually doing. The ball constantly screams out of control and they walk away frustrated because they don’t hit like Tiger. Here’s a kernel of truth. It’s not the amount of time but the quality that makes your practice perfect. True, Tiger spent hours as a kid on the putting green, but he spent more quality time in perfecting his practice for the game.

How we visualize and evaluate a process will help produce a more effective result. Tie this into our love and sport of music. Usually, when we first arrive to rehearsal, all we want to do is “go-at-it,” like the grip-it-and-rip-it theory. I’ve heard of rehearsals lasting 4-5 hours in a single evening, when more than half of the time the band was focused on “jamming.” The other half of the time is practicing that same one chord, line or lick (this also takes 1-2 hours). Oh, you’ve heard of this too?

Problem #1: You have a service to prepare for this weekend.

Problem #2: you don’t have time to practice during the week.

Problem #3: you wait until rehearsal to make up for your practice time.

In this setting, where was the time spent on visualizing and evaluating technique, approach and execution? Unfortunately all the time was spent at the sacrifice of quality.

The rehearsal is much like the golf range, a space where you practice for the main event. But true concept of visualization and evaluation begins at home. Whether if you sing or play an instrument, our technique, approach and execution needs to be rehearsed in a setting where we can individually focus. How much time does it take? Not much, just 10 minutes a day is fine. This can be done as a stress relief before or after work, or even just before you go to bed (this may be the best time). It’s about the process of repetition. Muscle memory (kinetics) takes over as your body remembers the process. You want to use your practice time like a mirror, where you can visualize what you are doing and evaluate your execution. By the time you get to rehearsal, you will spend less time thinking “what-am-I-suppose-to-do?” or “how-did-I-do-that?” and more time on “this-is-what-I-do,” and “this-is-how-I-do-it.” You will be surprised at your ability to focus on the actual music because you took time earlier in the week to get down your technique. Even easier, when you arrive at the worship service, you’ve mentally and physically prepared and you are ready to worship and have fun! This is what the service should be: serving God, serving others. Now, you are not focused on “you,” but focused on the right priorities. So, make it happen and begin to perfect your practice time. You’ll improve your game, as you will have more fun and more time.


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