Tag Archives: practice makes permanent

The Difference Between Practicing and Training

Practicing and training seem almost synonymous. But there are subtle differences. Dictionary.com gives us this information:

Noun: The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use. Verb: Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. And from wikipedia.com: a method of learning by repetition.

Noun: The action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behavior. And from wikipedia.com: The acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge.

So there is a difference. We train to learn a new skill and then we practice that skill over and over.

What about the difference between drilling and training? Again, we need to define our terms and look to dictionary.com.

Verb: Military. To instruct and exercise in formation marching and movement, in the carrying of arms during formal marching, and in the formal handling of arms for ceremonies and guard work.

But we do know that there is a difference for us in the military drill world:

  • Armed Drill
  • Unarmed Drill

So not all drilling is for “the carrying of arms during formal marching.” We can then conclude that some drill is practice and some is training. It just depends on the need.

“Practice Makes Perfect
No, it doesn’t. Ever. See above.

“Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
There is no “Perfect Practice.” This is a fluffy statement reworded from the first statement that does not have a solid foundation.

“Practice Makes Permanent”
Now you’ve got it. What you are trained to do and what you repeatedly do in practice, is what you will do in performance. The above two statements may seem right, but they are not.

USAF photo

Practice Makes Permanent: Shoulders

When my wife and I are out for a meal or shopping or just time together, we sometimes people-watch. It is interesting to see others and how they interact, what they wear, etc. My people watching is quite specific and my wife knows exactly what I watch: feet, shoulders and posture. So many times I want to run up to someone and say, “Look, you’re not walking well, you would probably feel better if you did XYZ.” I refrain from doing that, though.

Shoulder Alignment
I work with students, members of the military and first responders who have certain physical limitations that need to be addressed and then adapted to. One of these limitations can be shoulder alignment.

Even shoulders

One Shoulder “Dips”

These are just two examples of what one may encounter. Here is a good picture to illustrate different postures. Notice how good posture has the center of the shoulder aligned with the center of the ear?

Image courtesy triradar.com

Drillers must practice good posture 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. OK, when you are awake, 7 days a week.

Image courtesy ne-backpain.co.uk

For Drillers, their shoulders should be aligned with their hips, in general. A “disagreement” of shoulders and hips is when the both point in different directions (for an example, see ). If you are on a color team, your hips and shoulders must agree 100% of the time. Same goes for all Regulation Drill phases, unless there is a specific movement that requires the “disagreement” like Sling/Unsling Arms.

When Walking/Marching
Everything above your waist, except your proper arm swing, must not move. Your shoulders must not move up and down or go forward and backward. Arm swing comes from the shoulder, not from the neck.

Implementing “Practice Makes Permanent”
When you walk down the street, around the house, up and down stairs, around school, put the information in these articles into practice- all the time. The sooner all of your team members begin to march the same way, the better.

Practice Makes Permanent: Knees and Hips

The first part of the series, Feet, is here.

In this article, we will look at the knees and hips- we are working our way up the body.

Should point in the direction of the feet and should be controlled during marching/walking. Save your knees, don’t extend them past your feet. Here are some knee exercises. Also see this article, Is Your Walking Style Helping or Hurting?.

Your hips should move up and down: up as your leg comes back during your stride and down as your leg extends forward. Your spine and hips should not rotate forward and back. The image at right, from walkinghealthy.com, shows proper hip alignment on the left side and improper hip rotation on the right side- the image is the top view from the hips down, direction of march is down the page.

Great hip alignment information is here.

This is a great video to watch for proper hip movement:

[embedplusvideo height=”470″ width=”591″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Tj0BhlVaYHk?fs=1” vars=”ytid=Tj0BhlVaYHk&width=591&height=470&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep1217″ /]

Proper foot, knee and hip alignment work to create good posture when walking/marching. Make sure that you exercise and stretch your ankles, knees and hips.

Note: Sometimes certain physical conditions/limitations prevent proper marching technique. If this is the case, you may want to seek medical advice.

Posture for the Honor Guard and Drill Team

When standing and sitting, your posture matters.

The Foundation: In this diagram below, you can see that your feet have much to do with your posture.

from drleusden.com

From media.tumblr.com

Now your hips

Your hips should be square, horizontal to the ground and rolled back.

 From courses.vcu.edu

From radiancewellness.ca

From bellevuewellnessone.net

Your back

The “Cross”
This is what you need to keep in mind when training, practicing, rehearsing and performing.Posture- The Cross

Don’t pull your shoulders back, that’s not natural. Instead, stand erect and let your shoulders fall to centered (when viewed from the side). Never let your shoulders roll forward so that you slouch!

And while sitting

From fitness-programs-for-life.com

So, the same goes when you are marching.

Practice Makes Permanent- Feet

“Practice makes permanent.” Lt. Col. Bernard C. Lorenz always told my drill team this phrase. He was my AFJROTC instructor when I was in high school and has now passed, but I have always remembered that phrase and included it in my training. Thanks, Sir.

Practice makes permanent and education is key. We will tackle both in this article.

Many people understand practice makes permanent: go to practice/rehearsal and practice the way you would perform: stay in character (no goofing around, etc.), execute as perfectly as possible, etc. Practicing the way you perform is an excellent way to employ this phrase but, education must come before practicing- education is key.

Let’s look at feet
There are couple common problems with feet/ankles that can be helped through strengthening the ankles and also the use of orthotics (inserts for your shoes).

Foot issues while marching/walking:

  • Toe hitting the ground before the heel
  • Toe slapping the ground
  • Toe scraping the ground
  • Walking on the outside/inside of the foot
  • Toes pointing outward/inward
  • Whole foot hitting the ground
  • Heel not touching the ground
  • Heel barely touching the ground and foot bouncing forward to toe

From orthotics.com

From orthotics.com

From theshoereview.com

Two more common problems:

However, some people have their toes point outward:

Or inward:

It’s best to have your feet land centered and flat and then roll forward:

If your unit uses the 45-degree stance, then you last two steps create this angle, every other step should be straight.

So, how in the world does “practice makes permanent” work here?

I’m glad you asked! It took me a while, but I worked on my marching technique each day when I walked. I still do actually, and you can do it as well. Work each day when you are walking wherever and no one has to know that you are working on your marching technique. Here’s how to do it:

Hit your heel squarely on the ground, keep your foot straight and roll through the step to the center of your toes.


Don’t stomp! Use your leg muscles to ascend and descend while making as little noise as possible. Use your muscles well; train your muscles.

Strengthen your ankles

Here is an example of ankle exercises.

Train a little bit every day!