What’s the difference between doing something and practicing doing it?
When we practice something, the consensus is, the practice is a lead-up. Framed this way, practice gets a different treatment from the ‘real thing.’ For example, doing something like taking a few practice swings to warm up and get into the groove before playing ball. Since practice gives you more space to allow and accept mistakes, it’s not as serious, nor for keeps.
With practice, you have more time to ‘get it right’ and not so much pressure to get it right as to ‘get into the flow.’ That’s how the practice of practice can give off the impression of it not being as important as ‘the real thing.’ Without, say, screaming crowds or an apprehensive, appreciative audience, you can’t be faulted for thinking that. It’s the exciting stuff that gets attention.
So, makes what’s the difference? Take your pick.
The end defines the means. The clearer the goal, the more chances you have of finding appropriate ways and means to get there. Different goals for different fields show this. And even acquiring skills are counted as goals.
Goals that require physical mastery, for example, like playing the violin or playing basketball. Each area has different requirements, but in essence on the professional level one must be able to play with the instrument of choice as if it was an extension of one’s body. It does what you want it to. For that to happen, you need to train your whole body to know what to do to produce a desired effect, whether it’s producing a trill or making the perfect overhead shot, without you having to consciously think about it.
Goals that require intellectual discernment are different. Rote memorization can be boosted by memory exercises and practice. Discernment can only be gained through exposure, trial-and-error experience, and critical thinking. It isn’t making something do what you want it to as figuring out the how and whys, before going on to such questions as, what can I do with this, how can I make it do this instead.
Limits help define what you can and can’t do in a particular situation. Limits can force us to be more creative with how we move within them, just like stretching a budget (limited funds), being fanatically good at time-management (limited time), and focused productivity (limited focus and mental energy.)