I am a very keen sportsman in my spare time, and I love to bring sporting analogies into my training sessions because we can learn an awful lot from sport.  Let me share one with you that relates to why practise is so important:

As a little boy, I was always told by my Mum ‘Practise makes perfect’ and I remember getting quite annoyed when it was repeated to me.  ‘Yeah, yeah’ I’d say thinking in my head ‘I’ve heard it all before what a load of rubbish, I’ll never be perfect at anything’ but as I became an adult, I started to realise that actually, there was something in it.  As I was growing up, I used to like playing tennis with my friends, and nearly every day I’d hit a tennis ball against a wall over and over again, back-hand, fore-hand until a friend could come and play.  Fast forward to about five years ago, I decided to join a tennis club after a long break of not playing, and I couldn’t hit a tennis ball at all resulting in me nearly giving up but then I had a plan related to my childhood experience; so what did I do?  Well, I found a wall to hit and hit against and all of a sudden, I could play again!  Why, this was because, when I hit the ball against the wall, I was practising delivering the shots.  However, it wasn’t on a real court, but it meant that when I did get on the real court, I had already hit the shots many times, so I was far more confident and ready.  It didn’t make me ‘Perfect’, but certainly made me better! When preparing to deliver training, we can use the same theory as my story so here are my top tips for turning practise into fantastic training sessions:

Practise at home – If your nearest and dearest agree, practise in front of them and ask their opinion.  You can also use a mirror or now we are fortunate enough to have phones with cameras so record yourself and watch or listen to it and do it again.  Try not to be too critical of yourself though as its human nature to do so, concentrate on the fact that it’s an opportunity to make you even better!

Practise in the venue – If you’re lucky enough to have access to the venue you will deliver in, go in and practise there.  Being familiar with the surroundings will put you at more ease, and this will also help you in your preparation to ensure everything is right with aids, furniture etc.

Use your trusted colleagues – I find one of the best ways for objective, constructive feedback is to run through with a trusted colleague.  They will be able to give you excellent guidance and help but always remember that strengths are just as important as any areas for improvement!  Remember too that this gives you an added opportunity to use reflection with your colleague at the end to refine and prepare.

Use Visualisation – Over and over in your head and each time you run through your practise session, visualise lots of smiling faces, lots of questions and interest and people thanking you for a great session.  This will help you be mentally ready and will give you so much confidence going into the session because you’ve already delivered it many times.  This is an effective technique that top sportsmen and women use to great effect to win gold medals!  Apply the 3P’s – Ask yourself the question before every session, ‘Did I Practise, Practise, Practise’ enough?  Remember that even the best trainers no matter how many times they might have delivered the same session, always practise because that’s what makes them the best!

So the moral of the story is that Practise will make better in everything we do and especially when preparing to deliver fantastic training so get practising!

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.