Authored by Rodhe Sport Athletes (RSA)
Training vs. Practice
These words that are often used interchangeably even though they do not have the same meanings. As a track and field athlete, should you be training or should you be practicing? Let’s identify the meanings of both words and determine which is better suited for athletes, specifically throwers.
Practice is defined as, “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Pay close attention to the language used in this definition. The terms ‘proficiency’ and ‘maintain’ specifically stand out. These are words that are not used when describing elite-level athletes. We would not describe Olympians as proficient, and they certainly don’t spend thousands of hours in this sport to maintain their current level.
With that being said, we should not use any of these terms to describe the way we handle our growth and development as athletes. Passive language does not only discredit the time and effort put into your regimen, but it can negatively affect your competitive edge. The idea of practice brings thoughts of monotonous and repetitive actions that are simple part of our day, which can result in athletes “going through the motions” rather than being purposeful in their actions.
Training is defined as, “the act, process, or method of one that seeks to improve skill, knowledge, or experience in a certain area.” Here we see that the concept of training brings a much more direct and deliberate ideology. Athletes who spend time training rather than practicing are actively seeking to improve and development in their respective principle. We know what needs to be improved on, so we seek to adjust our technique, lifting, or attitude accordingly.
Understand that top-level throwers train. They don’t practice. When we begin to understand this concept and shift away from a practice mentality, we not only see better results, but we appreciate our time in the ring even more. Every rep, every drill, and every exercise is working towards the common goal of improving our throws.
Train, Don’t Practice
Simply put, practice DOES NOT make perfect. Real growth and development is found through change and adaptation. Do not get stuck in the same routines and expect to see improvements. This change in mentality begins the moment we decide to identify our time spent in preparation as training sessions, rather than practices. The result is a change in intensity, execution, and attitude. Training gives us a sense of purpose with our actions. This summer, make it a personal goal to give up ‘practicing’ and commit to consistent training. Your love for the sport will grow, along with the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you start seeing improvements.