Why do we Practice the way we do?

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Fran Hunt Simmons

Sometimes students have a hard time understanding why it is we spend so much time working on individual skills, when it’s easy to see that most of the team can do the skills. I tell them it’s a lot like a sports team. Every experienced baseball player has skills – they already know how to run, how to hit, and how to field. A lot of athletes are self-taught, and they are good at what they do. But when they join a team, they have to learn their coach’s way of doing things, and it may not be what they are used to. We are not individuals performing alone. As a team, we have to develop “the team’s way of doing things” in order to have what’s known as “good technique.” Here are some important terms that apply to this concept:

Skill – The ability to perform a function that has been acquired or learned with practice.
Examples of skills: spins, tosses, exchanges and tricks.

Practice – doing something repeatedly or continuously in order to master it.
– The purpose of practice is to master your skills.
– Achieving individual precision requires knowledge of a standard (such as FM 3-21.5) and unfailing adherence to that standard in performing a set of skills. You learn the rules, and work within them.

Technique – Using the same method to achieve a skill. Every team has its own techniques.

Fundamentals – Groups of techniques
– The purpose of learning fundamentals is to practice our technique.

The Work Ethic Behind Precision
In exhibition drill, you learn a routine between 6-10 minutes long with a team of 9 to 26 people. Team precision requires performing maneuvers that may or may not be explained in any manual with the same technique.

Precision – ability to perform fundamentals with good technique.
Precision is achieved through knowing team fundamentals and through many hours of learning, practicing, adjusting and analyzing the routine. It takes cooperation to achieve a thorough understanding of each move and your individual responsibilities within it.
It will be hard, but you will have help. Remember, we want you to do well. Your professional attitude towards the leadership of the team and towards the many adjustments required will be an important contribution to the effort to maintain high standards.

– In team competition, the judges measure whether skills are performed with precision.
– The team practices their skills with their specific technique using fundamentals in order to achieve precision.

Fran Hunt Simmons a long-time guardie, instructor, adjudicator and coach of the Ansbach High School AJROTC Cougar Battalion Drill Team

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