practice

I recently spent time watching a video on Twitter of the Michigan State offensive line in practice. For over two minutes, they went through the same drill, beginning in their starting stance and moving at the whistle. At which point, they stopped. They did this over and over again.

I was watching because it gave me an opportunity to see Eldest. Moms miss their kids when they’re gone. He doesn’t post much on social media, so I follow the MSU football accounts because I occasionally get a glimpse of him. Other than seeing him practice, it wasn’t a very exciting video.

This short video was only a fraction of their practice that day. I’ve seen other videos of this same drill, and I watch it on the field during warm-ups on game day.

They do this drill a lot.

After watching it, I texted Eldest to ask if they really learn anything in this drill. After all, it only lasts about a second and doesn’t include any actual reaching or blocking. His response: “Muscle memory.”

The average college football team runs about 70 plays per game. (I didn’t have to look very hard to find this information. Everything about college football is analyzed and discussed on the interwebs). For offensive linemen, who have few substitutions during a game, muscle memory is important for both form and speed off the ball every snap of the game.

But I still think the drill looks boring. Don’t they also reinforce this muscle memory as they run plays during practice?

They probably do. However, regardless of the play, every time they need to be able to come out of their stance quickly and accurately. If you don’t, you’re beat, and the play is busted.

Which makes me wonder what drills I should be “running” in my daily life to build up my muscle memory. Every day, I probably have 70 “snaps”: decisions to be made and interactions with others. How am I preparing so that I don’t bust?

What drills do I need to run to build good muscle memory? #SpiritualDisciplines Click To Tweet

Like the simplicity of the football drill, I can build my own muscle memory by doing simple things over and over. As a matter of profession, I participate in community worship and Bible study each week. But it’s not the same as being diligent about my personal spiritual disciplines.

It’s easy to let these things slide. Sometimes this daily dedication is boring, and I get distracted by more “interesting” things. Or I might get frustrated, wondering if they are really doing anything.

But I can see the proof in the busted plays. When I feel like I’m not making any progress or find myself lying on the ground wondering what happened, I need to consider whether I’ve strayed from the basics. And in doing so, what bad muscle memory I am reinforcing.

When I'm not making progress or find myself lying on the ground wondering what has happened, I need to consider whether I have been reinforcing bad muscle memory. #SpiritualDisciplines #discipleship Click To Tweet

It may seem repetitive, but it’s every day that I need to run my drills. In doing so, I can’t just go through the motions but be fully present to them. May God give me the patience and wisdom to practice well, so that I am building good muscle memory and be ready for each snap.

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper. – Psalm 1:1-3 (NRSV)

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It’s Five Minute Friday. Usually, this means a five-minute free write on the day’s prompt, but I wrote a little longer. You can read more great thoughts here.

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