Experience in competitive sports doesn’t come simply by the amount of time spent in a starter’s role, touches or minutes played in actual games. That time is when the body must act and react and the mind must execute with little or no delay. No, opposed to the famous Allen Iverson press conference where he showed his dislike of practicing, football practice is where an athlete sharpens his skills and prepares himself for gameday. Practice is similar to watching instant replay where the viewer can constantly rewind and fast forward to see every single detail of the play taking shape and also see it from different vantage points. The athlete when practicing must focus on every part of his body and ask himself if he turned his head at the right time to catch the ball, did he read the quarterback correctly, was he in the right zone, should he have had brought his hands up earlier and so on. In actual game situations, the athlete must execute and any mistakes he makes on his assignments takes on greater significance and bears a heavy toll on his mental focus.
Yes, it is about practice. An athlete can ask to run routes over and over again until he turns his hips at the right time and break on the route when he is able to add it to his muscle memory. Football is a game of inches so knowing and being prepared can help gain those crucial miliseconds and inches needed to make a play during a game. Unfortunately, not every practice will merit immediate results on the field but because football is a team game, the athlete who practices will, at the least solidify their responsibilities so that the entire unit can continue to move forward. The football teams that are successful in games have players who know their assignments and can help out other players (if needed) with their assignments. Practice also breeds communication and understanding among teammates because in actual game situations, when focus and execution must be at their highest, different people react in different ways to the stress. That finally is where experience comes into play–when a player can prepare for the ups and downs of a season and still execute at a high level.