It’s hard to believe that over a week has gone by since I was in Los Angeles watching the Crossfit Games. There were a lot of things that I took onboard mainly in the conversations I had with athletes and coaches.
The hard part of teaching
One in particular happened between my good friend John Welbourn of Power Athlete. When working out one day before we headed to the stadium we started talking about technique. As a coach and as a instructor we both see a wide array of performance. From everything to textbook to flat out abysmal. It is our jobs to break down what is not working, to replace it with the correct technique and then supervise the individual as they work through the process. I find it to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job as well as the most frustrating. A comment that John made really resonated with me and I’m paraphrasing, but you have to feel what is going bad in order to figure out how to fix it.
In my line of work, that means I have to have manufactured as many shooting errors as possible so I know exactly how to correct them. I love listening to or reading a corrective strategy that sounds something like this, “just do it this way.” Yah, right; why didn’t I think of that in the first place. There is that old leadership trait, don’t ask anything of your men you wouldn’t first do yourself. The same can be said for instructors. Until you have struggled with the shooting errors it makes it very hard to first recognize the error and second correct it.
I explained to John that I literally figured out how to create the common errors. Now, I will be honest, I didn’t need a lot of help in this department because I literally had to deal with most of these myself as I developed as a shooter. The hard part was first identifying the problem, what was causing the errant shot? Now, here is where it get’s tricky. You can have multiple errors or what I call compounding errors, which means the errors are stacked on each other. This makes it really difficult to isolate. I literally had to make the errors and make them consistently on demand. Talk about a tall task. Once I did, I was better able to analyze the issue and create a corrective strategy to fix the problem. It is a lot harder than it sounds, trying to make an error happen consistently, but as an instructor if you haven’t experienced them it makes it very hard to explain the corrective strategy to the student.
Being on the same level
Cognitively understanding correct technique is the next step, you really have to be solid on that subject. Then you take what you feel is the shooting error and logically think how to correct it consistently. Believe it or not, that is easier than trying to replicate the shooting error in the first place. Once you do that, then you can communicate that to the student at much more personal level. A level that tells them, “I’ve been there and done that.”
The take away from this form of diagnostic training is truly higher order stuff and it has taken me years and thousands of rounds to figure out not only the problem, but how to fix it and then teach that to the student. So, before you scoff at a student about a shooting error, ask yourself if you truly understand the problem. That is the beauty in the ugliness of a shooting error.