How We Practice is How We Play

As one of my last posts for the year, this week’s nugget of wisdom is HUGE.

Chatting with my coach the other day, he told me a simple yet powerful story of an experience he had while coaching his daughter’s soccer team. I hope it resonates with you as much as it did me.

He described one of the team’s recent warm-ups as a bit, well, … sloppy.

The girls were going through the motions and weren’t acting like themselves, that is, how he knew them to be.

So, he gathered them up and reminded them, “How we practice is how we play.”

And it clicked.

The team refocused and practised with intention, and they went on to play one of their best games of the year. They didn’t win, but that’s another story 🙂


Training = Opportunities to Improve How We Practice


How we practice is how we play is such a great reminder of how you do anything is how you do everything.

Our classrooms and training rooms are the perfect sandbox to refine the ‘practice’ of our groups before our participants get to ‘perform’ for real.

As a teenager, I can recall my tennis coach telling me to push hard during my lessons with him. I responded that this was only a practice game, so it didn’t really matter. But deep down, I knew that this was not true. Telling myself that I was “saving” my efforts for the actual game later on was just a cover to excuse me from “doing the work.” Basically, I was being lazy.

And this is exactly what our groups (try to) do, too.

As teachers, trainers and facilitators, we should not let our groups slide down this slippery slope.

This means that for every get-to-know-you interaction, trust-building game and team-building exercise, encourage them to play full out, as if crossing that imaginary “peanut butter pit” was real. Even if this work is “not real” our groups are not ‘pretending’ because they are all real and all very human.


We Set The Tone


As professional educators, we set the tone.

Cutting corners shows up in our delivery, our service, and our programs.

On the flip side, I truly believe that when you develop more discipline and excellence in one area of your life, you’ll see it overflow into other areas.

So here’s my challenge to close out 2023 – Show up. Give it your all.

Be excellent in the little things and watch them transform into the big things.

Because, in the end, how we do anything is indeed how we do everything.

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Comments (2)

  1. Mary Henton

    Thanks for the reminder, Mark.

    “How you practice is how you play” resonates with me as a former musician. I couldn’t play well unless I had practiced well (and often!).

    • Mark

      This is so true. I just need to convince my son of this universal law when it comes to his piano practice 🙂

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