What is the purpose of practice? As athletes, as coaches, as fathers and humans why do you practice? I want you to take a second and develop a reason for your personal practice. We all do it to some degree. Recently I have been reading Practice Perfect and listening to the wise words of John Wooden. They both discuss the idea that practice should be held to develop and hone skills. I am completely for this notion and as a strength coach I think it’s an essential part of our duties. We must develop strength and proficiency in bio mechanics and exercises such as the squat. Far too often coaches go through the motions; linear movement here, lateral movement there, a jump and then they have their athletes squat, etc etc. While these movements might be the basis for most programs out there, I believe there can be a deliberate purpose to each and everything we do with an emphasis on “practicing perfect”.
I will give an example that I use very frequently, in fact I have seen such great results with it that I use it every time we squat. We start EVERYONE using bar weight, they perform the rep perfectly, keeping the bar vertical (no horizontal movement), pulling themselves into the squat (knees are pressed out and the eccentric portion is a controlled movement), this sets them up for an explosive concentric movement, pause and repeat. If the athlete struggles with this, I continually coach and give feedback. While this may seem overboard John Wooden was known for teaching his athletes to put on their shoes and tie their laces, overboard? Some may say yes to both accounts, some may claim it’s a waste of time. Personally, I have seen record numbers for ALL of my lifters. I do a lot of cluster work around 90 percent so it’s extremely important to me to have faith that when I load my athletes to that type of stress, they are able to think back to the movement pattern they have practiced to be perfect at. I use a variety of drills that places the emphasis on perfection. As athletes they need to perfect certain movements, tasks and skills. This helps relate the weight room and all other aspects of my programs to the field and I feel they have more carry not only in their movements but their mindset as well.