Thursday, December 25, 2008

Back to Basics.

Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.

Lyrics from the Tool Song Lateralus
Those lyrics have stuck with me since I first heard them many years ago. I'm not going to profess to have really related to them all along. However, once I found myself immersed in physical culture, the lyrics had a special meaning to me.

There is a tendency with many of us to want to learn everything at over think. I think we don't always realize that we lack the capacity to immediately utilize all the knowledge available on a given topic or physical skill.

I think about my very wise Martial Arts instructor and Good friend, Jay Damato. He has said many times that when he works with someone in boxing, grappling, or Kali stick drills (really anything), they may be doing 5 or 6 things wrong, but he only points out one thing. Because in reality, fixing one thing at a time is all we are capable of doing. However, in fixing that one issue, the other issues may take care of themselves. Jay doesn't overwhelm someone and he controls the information going to them. Of course, some folks would rather Jay tell them everything at once, but Jay knows best.
I can tell someone everything I know about Kettlebell Lifting, i.e. the gross movements and every little subtle thing that I've figured out through tens of thousands reps. However, that would be too much information for most everyone especially anyone that has yet to master the basics. So, in taking a lesson from my friend Jay, I tend to focus on one thing when trying to fix a technique issue.

I also make it a point to not find little things wrong with what someone is doing. That is if what they are doing looks good, I don't look for little things or subtleties that I would change. Why? Those things come from more time and more reps and they are individual. Once someone owns the basics, those little things will be individual to them they will be things that they learn in the fire of training.

I will also not point out something minor because it could be mere nit-picking. As teachers or coaches, we often try to find something wrong just to show our superiority or that maybe we think hey they need me to find something because they are paying me; they need me to fix something.  But as teachers or coaches, we need to have the confidence to say, "you know, that looks good". In reality, many times what your students need is confidence. If you nit pick, you may cause them to over think or over analyze and that may in turn cause them to regress.

My Coach Valery Fedorenko is great in handing out the right information at the right time. He is good at disseminating the information in the proper doses. I remember one instance when Valery made a suggestion on someone's snatch. They said, "he said last time my snatch looked fine". I said, "Well, it probably did look good to him given how long you were doing it. Valery knew that you weren't ready for more information. He knew that if he presented you with that minor detail that you wouldn't focus on the things you were doing well."

If you want to learn a new physical skill, master the basics. If you want to coach and teach others, focus on teaching the basics and keep your students focused on them.. Get good at handing out the right information at the appropriate time. If you give to much information to soon, it may derail them.

As a coach and a student, I'm merely going to say don't over think or over analzye; Your body and mind need to work together and you want to build good basic movement patterns. If you are coaching, learn how to find out if the student has a grasp of the basics, get a sense for the information that they really need. Don't over think or over analyze the corrections they need to make. Their confidence in their abilities is more critical to their progression than any little minor change you could suggest.