Over-practicing: Quality over quantity

“Practice, practice, practice,” we’re constantly told. “Practice makes perfect,” we’ve also heard. Well, is there such a thing as too much practice? Is it humanly possible to over-practice? I’m not ashamed to admit that there is and I’ve been guilty of it. I’m sure we all have on occasion.  I’m not talking about the years we’ve been practicing. I’m referring to the time frame of each practice session. Of course, we may not realize it at the time, but I’ll share with you some indications of when enough should be enough.
Over-practicing can have almost as much of a negative effect as not practicing at all. The point of over-practicing is unique for each person based on your stamina and learning curve. During a productive practice session, you might reach a high where your performance is at its best and you’re doing everything you set out to do. This may mean that you just ran multiple consecutive racks, shot 100 perfect stop shots, or just have not missed a ball in a very long time. Whatever it is you’re working on, you’re mastering it and it feels great.
Naturally, when this happens, our instinct is to maximize this feeling. We want it to last forever. We don’t want to stop. Sometimes we just feel invincible. Unfortunately, this climax ultimately finds an end and we discover ourselves struggling to hold on. When this happens, we lose focus, our purpose shifts, we miss, and we are no longer performing at our best.
Have you ever had the best practice of your life only to end it on a sour note because you couldn’t leave well-enough alone? When I pass that window of practice ecstasy but still push myself anyway, I feel greedy for not walking away ahead. It’s like not leaving when you’re up at the Blackjack table and just losing all your winnings back, and more. Of course, I don’t realize it until the practice is over already, but by then it’s too late.
You, however, don’t have to make the same mistake. When you catch yourself missing consecutive shots after a long run of not missing any shots, it may be time to call it a night. Don’t sit through a string of bad cards. When you’ve had a quality practice and complete the perfect run out, be proud of that. Take your money and run. Practice ending your sessions on a positive note.
Set out to work on something specific (i.e. shoot 100 stop shots, successfully shoot a particular pattern 25 times, or run 75 balls without touching a rail). Complete that task and move on or wrap-up your practice. When you catch yourself aimlessly trying to top your last benchmark then your purpose has shifted from the skill you’re working on, to just practicing to practice. It’s more productive to accomplish your practice goals in an hour than to have a mediocre four-hour practice session. Quality is better than quantity.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences as a fellow pupil of this magnificent game. Please always feel free to contact me should you ever have any questions or comments regarding anything I’ve written.
I’ve had the honor of meeting many of you during this year’s BCA, VNEA, and ACS national events. Thank you for your support and for introducing yourselves. Shoot ‘em up & keep lovin’ this game!
Samm Diep
House Pro at Table Steaks East in Aurora, Colorado
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