You Practice Like You Prepare

15 May

They say “you play like you practice.”

But I don’t.

The idea is that, when it comes time to really perform, you will act with the same skill and attitude that you develop during practice. Coaches use this phrase to encourage team members to practice with intentionality and seriousness–so that when competition time comes they will be able to perform successfully.

It’s a nice idea, but I run into a personal snag.

I feel like I spend an awful lot of time practicing and preparing, and hardly any time actually playing.

I have some fairly high-powered Bible software on my computer. Surprisingly (shamefully?), I open the program more often to check and see if there are any new software updates rather than using it to actually learn something. I have this odd drive to make sure that it’s always completely ready, so that whenever I finally need to put it to work, it will be ready to go. I rarely put it into action, and hardly even practice with it. But yet I feel prepared in case I ever need to use it!

My penchant for preparation doesn’t stop there. During graduate school, I was a big fan of stockpiling office supplies. My dorm room (yes, I lived in a dormitory during grad school) was filled with extras of all sorts of wonderful things…pens, folders, dividers…I had all these tools on hand, just in case I ever needed to use them.

You know, I think they should make a television show about people like me, showcasing our habits. Oh wait, they did. It’s called Hoarders.

It’s sort of silly, really, accumulating all these materials–some physical, some electronic–just in case…unless I actually get to the point of using them, at which time the preparation might pay off. But I feel like I often, in a number of areas of life, spend a good deal of time preparing, and comparatively little time actually performing. When I moved out of my dorm room, I still had piles of supplies that I never used, and which I simply gave away.

Jokes abound about attorneys “practicing law” (hey buddy, when are you ever actually going to do some law?!?!), but I wonder about my own perspective on practicing. My wife and I talk about “practicing photography.” We both enjoy it and are developing picture-taking as a hobby. So, we suggest to one another, “Want to go out and practice photography?” Sounds fun…but when are we actually going to do photography? When is the real activity, the real performance? When does it “count”?

In the meantime, I practice. I prepare. I read magazines about technique. I buy memory cards and accessories so that when I finally find myself taking pictures “for real,” I’ll be ready.

I also still buy office supplies.

I prepare. I practice. When do I play?

Put me in, Coach!

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Life



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