The Purpose of Practice

The main purpose of practice is to improve. This may seem obvious, but many athletes forget about this. Rather than focusing on improving their skills in practice, they focus more on winning scrimmages and showing off how good they are. This can cause athletes to practice inefficiently. Instead of working on their weaknesses, they'll stay in their comfort zone and only practice what they're already good at. This happens especially during competitive games and scrimmages when athletes care so much about winning that they don't take any risks or attempt to practice their weaker skills. While this may help them win a somewhat meaningless scrimmage, it doesn't really help them improve that much.

This happens because athletes have the natural tendency to satisfy their egos by winning, showing off, and hiding their weaknesses. To counteract this, athletes need to consciously quiet their egos and focus more on the higher goal of improving. And coaches need to do their job to emphasize the true purpose of practice and teach their players how to practice properly.

However, while the true purpose of practice is to improve, this doesn't mean there aren't appropriate times during practice to focus on other goals such as winning. Sometimes during practice, athletes need to learn how to compete. In these cases, it is fine to just focus on winning a scrimmage. By just focusing on winning, and playing the best that you can with maximum effort, concentration, composure, intelligence, and teamwork, you are improving your mental toughness. While winning a scrimmage is somewhat meaningless, the mental toughness you gain from it will help you perform better in real games. This improved mental toughness is sometimes what an athlete needs most in practice.

In conclusion, there are times to focus mainly on winning in practice, but for the most part, practice is meant to improve skills. This means that athletes need to focus mostly on deliberate practice, taking risks, and practicing weaknesses. This may not always satisfy your ego, but it'll help you be a better athlete in the long run!