On Practice

In order to build robust motor memory, the repetition of effective practice must take place during sensory-perceptual-motor learning, or more simply, motor learning. The Specificity Principle refers to practice specificity and learning specificity, in that practice must be specific to the task in order for learning to be effective.  When practice is indeed task-specific, and with the repetition of this specificity of practice, we can expect our performance to improve in the acquisition of all feeding skills and so many other skills across the lifespan.

The Specificity Principle is reflected in the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a set of recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).  Step 9 of the Ten Steps advises, "Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants."  The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) has long supported the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and in childbearing facilities where the Ten Steps are followed, longer rates of breastfeeding duration result (see Appendices I - VI in the Resources section of this website).  

Here in the U.S., college basketball is nearing the end of its season, and the final men's game will take place on Monday night between Villanova and Michigan.  As the daughter of a high school coach in boys' basketball and baseball, I have so many positive memories of watching my late father, Wlbur Swank, coach athletes in his highly positive, high-energy style.  With these happy memories in mind, here are some favorite quotes about the importance of practice.  

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. - Vince Lombardi

Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection. - Toba Beta

Everything is practice. - Pele

The way anything is developed is through practice practice practice practice practice practice practice practice practice and more practice. - Joyce Meyer

I used to practice at the hockey ground on synthetic surface while I was in the sports hostel, so Test cricket is certainly going to be a challenge for me. - Suresh Raina

Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it. - Mia Hamm

Champions keep playing until they get it right. - Billie Jean King

I've always really just liked football, and I've always devoted a lot of time to it. When I was a kid, my friends would call me to go out with them, but I would stay home because I had practice the next day. - Lionel Messi

Do it again. Play it again. Sing it again. Read it again. Write it again. Sketch it again. Rehearse it again. Run it again. Try it again. Because again is practice, and practice is improvement, and improvement only leads to perfection. - Richelle E. Goodrich

The same way that I practiced the violin, the same way that I practiced my dance moves, I decided that I was going to practice being positive and practice loving myself. - Lindsey Stirling

If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it. - Jascha Heifetz

If you don't practice, you don't deserve to win. - Andre Agassi

Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast. - Emil Zatopek

We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God. - Martha Graham

There is something comforting about going into a practice room, putting your sheet music on a stand and playing Bach over and over again. - Andrew Bird

First you study photography, then you practice photography, then you serve photography, and finally one becomes photography. - Ralph Gibson

Pastry school is great for a foundation and introducing you to basic techniques, but it is really up to the chefs to practice, practice, practice and refine their techniques. - Johnny Iuzzini

I'm a person who gets better with practice. Getting older is awesome - because you get more practice. - Zooey Deschanel

In the end, it's about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me. - John Wooden

Bradley is one of the few basketball players who have ever been appreciatively cheered by a disinterested away-from-home crowd while warming up. This curious event occurred last March, just before Princeton eliminated the Virginia Military Institute, the year's Southern Conference champion, from the NCAA championships. The game was played in Philadelphia and was the last of a tripleheader. The people there were worn out, because most of them were emotionally committed to either Villanova or Temple - two local teams that had just been involved in enervating battles with Providence and Connecticut, respectively, scrambling for a chance at the rest of the country. A group of Princeton players shooting basketballs miscellaneously in preparation for still another game hardly promised to be a high point of the evening, but Bradley, whose routine in the warmup time is a gradual crescendo of activity, is more interesting to watch before a game than most players are in play. In Philadelphia that night, what he did was, for him, anything but unusual. As he does before all games, he began by shooting set shots close to the basket, gradually moving back until he was shooting long sets from 20 feet out, and nearly all of them dropped into the net with an almost mechanical rhythm of accuracy. Then he began a series of expandingly difficult jump shots, and one jumper after another went cleanly through the basket with so few exceptions that the crowd began to murmur. Then he started to perform whirling reverse moves before another cadence of almost steadily accurate jump shots, and the murmur increased. Then he began to sweep hook shots into the air. He moved in a semicircle around the court. First with his right hand, then with his left, he tried seven of these long, graceful shots - the most difficult ones in the orthodoxy of basketball - and ambidextrously made them all. The game had not even begun, but the presumably unimpressible Philadelphians were applauding like an audience at an opera.            - John McPhee, A Sense of Where You Are:  Bill Bradley at Princeton