Practice Makes Permanent

Instead of the ol’ saying, “Practice makes perfect,” I’d like to rephrase it to, “Practice makes permanent.”

You see, practice of anything only works well IF you are practicing the correct skill the correct way. If you keep practicing your Double Unders with your arms too far out and donkey kicking, guess what you’re going to get really good at?! If you keep hitting the barbell high thigh, rather than in your hip crease in the Snatch, guess what you’re going to make permanent in your technique?! And, if you repeatedly bend your knees first and squat forward on your toes in the Overhead Squat, take a wild guess at what you will perfect?!

So, no, practice does NOT make perfect.

Practice makes permanent.

What cues have the coaches been telling you lately? What skills do you need to work on? What part of the lift could you improve on? What do you need to practice?

Pay attention, slow down, break it down, and start practicing the right things, even if that means “starting over” to undo any “permanent damage.”

For example, when I first started CrossFit in 2009, I learned how to Snatch in a very basic, safe way, meaning, I kept my back straight, my hands were wide, and the rest just kind of happened. I hit the barbell mid-thigh and became “perfect” at that technique. Then, I joined an Olympic lifting class… Rude awakening!

I went in being able to Snatch 125 pounds. That first class, I was only allowed to use a PVC pipe and an empty barbell. I used that empty barbell for the next two weeks, over and over again, drill after drill after drill to undo my bad habit of hitting mid-thigh, and relearning to hit in the hip crease. Then, very gradually, I was allowed weight. Like, 5-10 pounds more each week, if I showed progress in my technique. And, at any time I showed any signs of regression, the weight came off.

I think because I spent an entire year “practicing that perfect” mid-thigh habit, it took me twice as long as a clean-slate lifter to get the Snatch technique down.

So, here we are near the end of the first month of 2019, and we talked a big game about resolutions, changes, and progress. Let’s make it happen!

Practice the CORRECT movements. If you don’t know what those are, ask a coach! Get coaching! Ask for a private lesson - Yes, they are valuable and worth every penny, and yes, even the best athletes in the gym need them, too! Private lessons can be done in 15 minutes increments (15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90), it all depends on the skill you need work on, and what the coach thinks would benefit you most.

Video yourself practicing a skill, and then watch it. Ideally, watch with a coach, too, to get feedback. But, regardless, coach or not, it’s an invaluable tool to see yourself on camera. And, no, it’s not the same as watching yourself in a mirror. Mirrors are distracting. Film yourself, and then watch the video.

It’s not enough to just practice something. Spending 15 minutes a day on Double Unders doesn’t matter if you’re practicing the same sh***y form. It also doesn’t matter if you don’t know WHAT to practice and HOW to fix it. Maybe you just don’t know what you’re doing wrong in the Double Unders. That’s not your fault. But, it is your responsibility to ask for help and coaching. If you suck at Double Unders and it’s something you want to get better at, ask the coach!

Practice makes permanent.

Let’s make permanent gains! ;-)

Kara PurvesComment