The Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal

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It may seem strange, even silly, to define practice, training and rehearsal down to the “nth” degree. However, there are JROTC units that do not have the luxury of an experienced drill coach. Many JROTC instructors have never marched much past their Basic training days and that’s OK. Our military jobs came first and for many, marching was a thing of the past. Even with some JROTC instructors having marching experience, we now come into the competitive marching world which is a whole new ball of wax for just about everyone and defining our terms helps everyone learn.

I wrote about the difference between practice and training here. Please read this very important article. Here is a quote from that page to refresh your memory:

“We train to learn a new skill and then we practice that skill over and over.”

Now let’s look at something you may not have considered.

drillteam practicePractice
Everyone needs to practice their skills, those in the military and the civilian workforce practice all of the time and when it comes to a sport or a hobby than one is passionate about, practice can make all of the difference.

Our “hobby” is military drill: exhibition, regulation and/or ceremonial and when we practice our skill(s), we cement that action, through muscle memory into our actions so that we can perform that skill (a flag fold or a certain segment in an exhibition routine, for instance) almost exactly the same each time.

Let’s look at an exhibition drill routine. During practice, we can maybe feel that something is not quite or that if the rifle rotates another half-spin and it is then caught while the body is rotated to face this direction, then we can… I think you get the point. Practice helps us refine our skills that we learned during training and also helps us explore new options that we may not have considered before when we were just beginning to learn that skill. Practice and training can be interrupted again and again until the manual’s or our level of perfection is achieved, depending on the skill.

drillteam practice1Rehearsal
It is not just for dancers or musicians. If it isn’t already, this term needs to be incorporated into your preparations for a performance. You may already be doing this, but you are just not aware of how different this term is from the others previously mentioned.

A rehearsal is when, after training and much practice you run through your performance (posting the colors, a regulation sequence, etc.) from start to finish without stopping. Here, you can look at timing and boundary issues, if there are any. Rehearsing over and over is very necessary to create both muscle and visual memory and it helps to ensure that the team knows exactly what happens before, during and after the performance.

So, you knew about rehearsing? Excellent! I’m glad that you and your team have time allotted for that aspect of your training program. You didn’t know, or you kinda-sorta knew? That’s fine, everyone learns and now you can all pass along this vital information to the rest of your teammates to ensure that your program flourishes for years to come!

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