Why Do You Need To Practice Everyday?
Ever heard these lines before? If you are a sportsperson or an avid fan of sports movies, you might have heard it a ton. But even on a regular day, there is a good chance you have heard or read these quotes.
Either we have heard it from our parents when we’re struggling with our maths as tears roll down from our eyes, or from our coaches during our training sessions as sweat rolls down our brows, or from ourselves when there is no one else to tell us. And without another blink of an eye, we are back practising again. But have you ever wondered, why does practice actually help you get better? Along the same lines, why does it feel easier to run the same distance if you run that distance religiously, everyday for a month? Turns out, there is some really interesting science behind the whole concept of practice! So, let’s not wait anymore and just…dive in!
What is Practice?
First off, what even is practice? Well, it’s the art of doing something over and over until you get a grip of it, eventually getting better with each cycle. Ever seen young teenagers just hack away at their keyboards, typing at breakneck speed and still managing to get the text out with a minimal number of mistakes? Sometimes, they do not even need to have a glance at the keyboard and yet, they are always two to three words ahead. And if you’re an avid cricket fan, you surely must have this question in your mind. A ball coming in at 150+ kilometres per hour towards the batter and somehow, the batter can see, judge and hit the ball. Even more challenging is for the shuttlers…returning badminton smashes coming in at over 400 kilometres per hour. They don’t really need to even see the lightweight shuttle. They just place their racquet and that’s about it.
That begs the ultimate question…how does that even happen?
As the title suggests…it all boils down to PRACTICE. After you have typed and delivered a zillion messages and faced a thousand deliveries on the cricket pitch, you get used to the situation at hand to such an extent that stuff just happens in pure, poetic motion. But let’s get away from the nitty gritties of it and think about the science of it all. Why does repeating an action over and over make you better at it?
What do we get out of practice?
Our brains, remarkably built and put together, have a feature that you probably might’ve not known about. Our brains leave some room or scope for improvement. Hear us out.
Think of your brain as the hub of a ton of electrical wires. These wires are the neurons of the body. All these wires or neurons are connected to various parts of your body. The brain sends signals or messages through these neurons to carry out commands and actions. For instance, if you want to scroll down on this mail…you decide to move your thumb from the bottom to the top of the screen. Now the thumb doesn’t move all by itself. The brain generates an impulse and sends it through the neurons to the muscles in your thumb and the thumb drags across the screen to scroll down.
Each and everyone of us have heard these quotes before. Either we have heard it from our parents when we’re struggling with our maths as tears roll down from our eyes, or from our coaches during our training sessions as sweat rolls down our brows, or from ourselves when there is no one else to tell us. And without another blink of an eye, we are back practising again. But have you ever wondered, why does practice actually help you get better? Along the same lines, why does it feel easier to run the same distance if you run that distance religiously, everyday for a month? Turns out, there is some really interesting science behind the whole concept of practice! So, let’s not wait anymore and just…dive in!
A runner’s perspective!
The first day you turn up for a run, the body has never been put through that strain before. The movement is completely unnatural and you may feel out of place. But over time, gradually, you begin noticing a change. You begin to run more naturally and without giving it much thought that you are on the move. You simply just run.
That is because, your brain figures out that your body has begun running almost routinely and it gets to work reorganising and rearranging. Now all the pathways or neurons that are required to work for completing the run, begin to come together. Not all at once or immediately, but over time, slow and steady.
So the neurons that control
- your vision to help focus on the route
- your breathing
- Your heart rate
- Your core body temperature
- Your muscles for motion…
They slowly start coming together to form a single pathway purely dedicated to running.
Think of it like a stack of dominos. You push one…and the others just follow suit without anything else to influence the fall.
Basically, all the motions that were happening separately, begin working together in sync to help you run better. In other words, your brain essentially rewired itself based on what you put it through everyday. You run everyday and the brain clubbed the neurons responsible for making running possible, ensuring that the entire process of running gets easier, efficient and just more natural to you.
But there’s something you need to keep a watch out for. The brain, remarkable as it may be, is a bit like a computer. You won’t get the desired results if your input data itself is wrong. If you run with a bad posture or form, your brain begins to record this posture and get used to it, which totally negates the positive effect of neuroplasticity. All the efficiency of getting used to running goes out the window if the posture your brain gets used to, is wrong in itself.
That’s what practice is all about. Repeatedly doing stuff over and over again in order to get your brain to rewire itself and get used to the new course of action. Scientifically, this act of rewiring the brain, or changing the way it operates is called neuroplasticity. And if you want to test the magic of neuroplasticity in a way easier than running, we can suggest an idea.
Try brushing your teeth with your hand you do not regularly use. First day is going to be a disaster. You probably won’t even be able to get the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the bristles. But over the next few days, you will begin to notice that you are getting better. Once again, not all at once but gradually; baby steps.
So your ultimate goal would be to treat your brain like the supercomputer that it is. You give it the right information, and it will give you the right results. Nothing else. So all you have to do is to maintain a good posture, a healthy diet and above all, consistency in training…and the magnificent brain will just follow suit and do the rest.