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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Practice How You Perform


Practice may be defined as the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it. For instance, rather than thinking about playing a guitar, an individual can actually play the guitar.


Similarly, performance may be defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. For example, after practicing with a guitar a person may take action by playing a set of songs for other people while using the instrument.


Suppose that the individual rarely practices playing the guitar. Would this decision affect the person’s performance? Unless the guitar player is a musical prodigy, I suspect the lack of practice will yield undesirable consequences.


Consideration of this concept reminds me of a phrase I heard in childhood: Practice how you play and play how you practice. If memory serves, I heard this expression from a football coach.


The football team, of which I was a member, was encouraged to utilize afterschool practice to apply our efforts as realistically as possible in relation to how we would behave in an actual game. Practical practice was said to translate to improved performance in this regard.


Once in a game, testing the team’s skills against others who presumably practiced for the competition, the team that pragmatically practiced was projected to prevail during the much-anticipated performance. We practiced how we played and played how we practiced.


Later in life, when serving in the Marine Corps, I heard a spinoff of this expression. I was told to train how you fight and fight how you train. The idea behind this derivative advisement was that the manner in which Marines trained for battle would reflect in our performance during combat.


If a Marine half-assed the process of training, applying oneself to the minimum standard of acceptability, the loss of one’s life or the lives of other Marines may result during a fight with an enemy. As well, combatants who trained to fight us were said not to have neglected practical training, so we were required to train harder than them.


Just after my departure from the Corps, I heard a quote attributed to Peter Bergman, “When you are not practicing, remember somewhere someone is practicing, and when you meet him, he will win.” One isn’t certain if this is an authentic quote. Nevertheless, I find value in the proposal.


Contemplating the topic herein, I think of my approach to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Regarding this matter, I stated in a blogpost entitled Practice:


When people disregard practice of the technique though irrationally conclude, “REBT doesn’t work,” I wonder what they expect of a tool they use less—rendering the tool useless. It truly is an unreasonable assumption to discount REBT altogether, due to one’s lack of practice regarding the technique.


Having derived meaning from the proposed Bergman quote, when you aren’t practicing, your irrational beliefs are constantly practicing, and when they manifest to influence your thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and behavior, you’ll be self-disturbed.


When working with clients, I encourage people to choose realistic problems to address in our sessions. This is because clients sometimes tiptoe around issues and such behavior doesn’t best serve their interests and goals.


Likewise, when negotiating homework for practice outside of sessions, I invite clients to consider pragmatic areas of opportunity. Choosing to work on a nonexistent issue won’t necessarily result in the ability to attain resilience needed for real-world problems.


Therefore, I maintain that you can practice how you perform and perform how you practice as a means of reaping the full benefit of REBT. After all, your unhelpful beliefs likely aren’t taking much time off. When they present themselves, how might you respond?


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 20). Practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, March 19). The tool you use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 20). Useless tools. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Huanca, F. (2024, March 5). Short-haired adult man [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from

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