This week has been set aside for memorializing police officers who have died in the line of duty. I have thought a lot about these officers. I have thought about the three I personally knew. I thought about how every single day officers put their lives on the line. I thought about what they could do to increase their chances of staying alive and I remembered something I’ve heard my husband tell my son over and over and over. “Practice like you play because you’ll play like you practice.” He told him during every baseball practice. He told him during every hockey practice. (I told him that one time he practiced the trombone. One time.)
Clearly it’s good advice. It’s good advice for athletes and concert pianists. It’s good advice for those learning a foreign language. It’s good advice for Broadway stars.
It’s even better advice for cops.
Police officers need to practice. They need to practice running and shooting. They need to practice Vehicle Close Quarter Battles (VCQB). They need to practice high-risk vehicle stops. They need to practice “slicing the pie.” They need to practice shooting their weapons over and over and over. They need to practice what to do if their weapon malfunctions. They need to practice felony traffic stops. They need to practice taking their weapon apart and putting it back together again and again and again. They need to practice their response to an active shooter. They need to practice reloading with one hand. They need to practice in low light. They need to practice the “stack.”
Police officers need to practice. Perfectly. Intentionally. They must be able to hit center mass—not just the target. The brain plays a huge role in performance. The brain can actually be rewired for better performance through practice. Practicing skills time and time again cause the neural pathways in the brain to work better. But when you practice skills incorrectly you are increasing the speed of the wrong neurons! “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
Wives, I know it’s hard to hear “I’m going to the range after work.” Or, “I’ll be gone to training that week.” I know it feels like they are gone all the time already and now they are gone to training. My advice? Let them go. As a matter of fact, encourage them to go more.
They need to practice. Their life depends on it.
“Don’t practice until you get it perfect. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”