One of the greatest misconceptions in training is the idea that "Practice makes Perfect".
Practice Makes Consistent
Practising any behaviour, be it physical or mental, allows us to get better at consistently repeating that same behaviour. Practice allows us to consistently repeat the practised behaviour. In freediving training, this means that practising efficient techique will be beneficial, but practising counter-productive behaviour will work against our training success.
If, for example, we focus our practise at being aware of our streamline and we practice improving and fixing things during our dive, this will certainly allow us to become better at fine-tuning our dives and with this practice, our dives will become smoother and smoother.
So far so good. This is what we expected. Practice makes Perfect, right?
If we practice, however, a counter-productive behaviour, like losing relaxation with a stressful final breath before the dive or inefficient technique, then we will become better at repeating this behaviour. We will become very good at being counter-productive and will more and more consistently work against our own freediving.
Can we apply this also to, say, training goals? Let's see. We set ourselves a target of a certain distance for dynamic freediving and we find that we come up early. Our buddy says: "Keep trying!" and we go on in the hope that one day it will work. - This practice effectively reinforces the behaviour of coming up before we have reached our goal. We will become more and more consistent at giving up. Frustration ensues. (In this case, it would make more sense to redefine our training target, by the way).
If we practice something that works against us (bicycle fin-kick, anyone?), makes us feel bad (equalisation issues, anyone?) or repeatedly set frustrating training goals for ourselves, we will become better at frustrating ourselves and we will lose the enjoyment that is such a vital part of freediving.
We want to practise what works and what we know will work.
Thus we need a solid understanding and an awareness of what we are doing, and what is limiting us in our training - from preparation and form to session plans and training goals - in order to work on the quality of our diving and increase not only performance, but also our enjoyment (the two are often seen going hand-in-hand, by the way).
This insight transcends easily into rest-of life. Let's remind ourselves that every single thing we do is practice, Every time we do anything at all, we have the choice to
- become more consistent in improving what it is that we do
- become more consistent at doing it the way we are used to
Which will you choose?