Competence is activated after preparation.
When we perform, what we know rises to the surface.
That’s why time spent on nailing that ‘guitar lick’, strengthening those runs, and targeting the weak areas is time well-spent.
Then, when it’s time to perform, that which has been practiced in private is made public.
The difference between practice and performance is the degree to which we surrender the execution of the endeavor to the realm of unconscious effort. When we practice, we are targeting every step our foot lands on, so to speak. When we perform, we trust that when we take a step, it will land as expected and as we practiced. The activity moves from the explicit to the implicit.
Think about it like this: When we were toddlers learning to walk, every step was a big deal. We stumbled and fell, got back up, stumbled again. Each step was contributing to our understanding. After some time, as toddlers, we don’t deliberate and doubt that each foot will follow the other. We’ve done it enough times to know what to expect.
I like to think of spaced practice as raising my degree of certainty.
Sure, we don’t do a good job of walking at first, but we raise our competence to the level of the challenge. At some point, doubt and internal deliberation no longer hold our attention. Walking now has a high degree of unconscious execution.
Our bodies can do a lot of activities without the assistance of our conscious intention. Place your performance into that realm and let it go. What you know will rise to the surface.
To learn more about the science behind this, read The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler