At teacher compared learning various sports to practicing and drilling in English learning when he said, "This is like saying that the only way for a goalie to get better at soccer is by playing soccer games. Golf players should never go to driving ranges, because they can't get a sense of the lie of the land there. Tennis players should never practice against a wall because the wall won't spin the ball the way another player will. Baseball players should spurn hitting practice because it lacks the context of the position of the players."
No, I don't think it's the same. Can we really compare becoming proficient in English to becoming proficient in sports? Wouldn't we say that English communication is infinitly more complex than sports?
Take golf, for example, the number of variations for a putt are highly limited compared to the number of variations in expressing something in English. In fact, many skills in sports are dependant on the player being able to replicate the motions the same way every time.
That is why repetitious practice can help players. They practice their swing over and over and over until they are like a machine. Of course, in the game, the lay of the land may require some judgements in how to hit the ball but those judgments are calculated into the stroke that the player has mechanically practiced.
Perhaps there are only a few ways to sink a putt but there can be a hundred ways to explain you are going to the store to buy some sugar. I'm sure Tiger Woods would disagree but I believe language is more complex than golf and they cannot be learned in the same way.
Drilling and repeating is not effective. Students can learn English by using English following Krashen's theories of Comprehensible Input.