Wednesday musings, 12/16/15 Play, skill acquisition, and training

A couple of years ago, Gray Cook wrote an article* on the difference between play, practice, and training. Play is something we frequently think is reserved for children and professional athletes. Children play with abandon, fully focused on the task at hand. There is no concern about “how” they are moving or achieving the desired movement. Skill, on the other hand, is something with a desired outcome. There is skill, for instance, in running with a specific rate of turnover or in achieving a 10 second handstand. These things require practice, focus, and deliberate drills to achieve the desired outcome. Training supports play and skill acquisition. In the physical realm, training gives you the strength, physical capacity, and mobility needed to play in a way that is free of fear of injury. (Rarely do 16 year old athletes think, “I shouldn’t take that jump shot because I might twist my knee when I land. That happens when you’re 40, playing a pick-up game of basketball, and suddenly realize maybe your body doesn’t quite remember how to do the things it could do when you were 16 because it’s out of practice). Training also gives you the requirements for skill acquisition. Handstand practice is much more successful if you have worked on core integration, wrist mobility, and shoulder mobility/strength. 


Training isn’t necessarily fun. Depending upon goals, it can be a little bit tedious, and maybe even a touch uncomfortable. If you have a hard time getting yourself to participate in an exercise training program because you don’t find it interesting or you dislike the work involved,