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 once....to 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 ten thousand 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; they need something to fix. 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.

CI

12 comments:

Bill Fox said...

Cate

Nice post. reminded me of this Tool lyric:

I know the pieces fit
'Cause I watched them fall away

It's really more about stripping away then adding little tweaks, and as you say that comes from reps.

Catherine Imes said...

Thanks Bill.

Ah yes, the list of applicable Tool lyrics is likely long.

Steven Khuong said...

Cate,

Excellent piece! Funny, I've been thinking about this subject for a while now. In the past few years, I've found myself nitpicking less and just giving out one pointer at a time. As a matter of fact, sometimes my students will alert me to someone's incorrect form and they are quite surprised that I adjust only one detail and not address all of the mistakes. I try to explain that it takes 6-8 weeks for neuromuscular adaptation to occur and that no matter how much I focus on all the details, it will take time for mechanical issues to improve. I am more patient now and like my teaching style much better. Thanks for addressing this!

Best,
Steven

Catherine Imes said...

Hey, Thanks Steven. You and Maya obviously do a wonderful job coaching at the Ice Chamber as evidenced by the results of your team! I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from you guys. Maybe I'll get out there some day!

CI

Maya said...

Cate,

If we're doing a good job with our folks, it's because of your positive contributions too. Thank goodness you have been here to advise us along the way ;-)

Maya

Catherine Imes said...

Thanks Maya!!! I couldn't think of better people to be assisting/advising :)

The Edge said...

Cate,

Excellent post! It becomes more apparent to me the longer I'm in this business that knowledge is nothing without the correct application!

The advice given here will prove extremely valuable to anyone looking to improve themselves or those around them. Interestingly, it is often far easier to point out numerous fault in someone's technique, blurt out several corrections and move on, however, this is not optimal and is not an effective approach to coaching or learning.

It takes far more patience, commitment and attention to detail to focus in on one key movement problem before moving on to the next. At first glance this may appear to slow the progression curve, but on the greater scale of things the benefits to this approach will become clear to for all to see.

It takes time and experience to master the art of coaching others, but I can think of no single better piece of advice to follow than you've illustrated here.

Closely linked to this subject I would like to say thanks Cate. I really appreciate the great advice you gave me in Atlanta regarding my snatch technique. I am already working on that one key aspect (hip drive) of my lift safe in the knowledge that if I can correct this fault I will become a much more accomplished lifter in the snatch event.

cheers,
Ross

Catherine Imes said...

Thanks for stopping by Ross and the feedback.

As a side, overall, your lifting looked very good. I think the one tip I gave you is kind of a "last piece" in the snatch puzzle for many; it is really timing and intent.

I look forward to seeing your ongoing progress and hopefully we will see you at the Arnolds?

The Edge said...

Cate,

Thank you Cate, I have the upmost respect for you as an athlete and coach and I value your opinion in the highest regard. If you think my lifting looked good, I take that as a huge compliment. I must be doing something right.

Yes, I will be at the Arnold. No traditional for me at this meet though, I shall be focusing on Long Cycle for a while, from a competitive standpoint at least. LC just comes naturally to me so I'm going to specialize for a little while. I'm sticking with the 24's for the Arnold, but would like to make the transition to the 32's in '09' and start building towards my MS. So that's the goal.

I'm not abandoning the Jerk and Snatch though, I will be focusing on heavy Jerks with the 32's and try and snatch with the 24 at least once or twice per week.

Will you be competing at the Arnold, it would be great to see you lift in a big meet like this?

cheers,
Ross

Catherine Imes said...

Yes, I'm registered for the Arnold and will compete.

I think focusing on the LCC&J is a good idea with the 24s. Snatching a couple of times per week won't hurt.

Looking forward to seeing you at the comp!

Thanks!
CI

The Edge said...

Excellent, I look to seeing you there and watching you lift! We'll have to talk too, I would really like to host some seminars and perhaps a meet at my facility in '09' so I'd like to discuss some specifics with you and see what we can do. I've talked to Marty a little about putting something together also, so perhaps between the three of us we can get something organized.

Good luck with your training!

cheers,
Ross

Catherine Imes said...

Sounds Good Ross. Have a great New Years!

CI