Staying Switched On…

A common remark we hear in our classes is how easy sleep comes at the end of the day. How mentally tired students are after a full day of training and how surprised they are at their level of mental exhaustion.

No duh…

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, concentration takes effort. To be successful in an activity requires constant effort or constant concentration. I talk about strategies to help improve your performance during class. Skill level is not always relevant, in other words you might think a person with good shooting skills might not have to concentrate as much. Not necessarily the case, they concentrate at staying focused. While someone with poor shooting skills has to concentrate on a new activity those with good shooting skills have to concentrate on maintaining a high level of performance, not always an easy task.

Do be like Doug the Dog

What is the advice I give students? Remove distractions. When your concentration is broken due to a distraction all sorts of bad things happen. You need to clear any clutter or anything that is not going to help improve your performance. You don’t need to bring everything and the kitchen sink to the firing line. All those items not directly connected to improving your performance are merely a distraction to you. Instead of focusing on improving performance you start considering how these other items might help. Well, they can’t. If they could, you would have been using them already so stop.

Simple, but not easy

Your primary goal in learning is to affect change. In shooting, it comes in the form of behavioral change and it is not easy. Working through bad habits requires an intense level of concentration. I know it sounds simple, but when you remove distractions it will allow you to concentrate more efficiently. The way you want to think about this is a balance between concentration and suppression. You need to concentrate on what matters for peak performance and suppress the distractions that inhibit peak performance.

That would be a waste of time

Over the years I have realized lengthy explanations are a waste of time. While in my head I feel as though I have provided ample information, truthfully, I provided too much. I have taken the approach of concise communication and instructions. The fewer words I use to express my point, activity or task the better. I am competing against all those distractions so I have to deliver the message as quickly as I can so it has the best chance of being processed. I use quantifying questions to gauge the delivery of my message and with time I have streamlined to the bare minimum. Responsibility for success doesn’t rest solely with the student. The instructor needs to be aware of this and manage it through better teaching strategies.

Feel the burn

Since we are performance based, I can see the ebbing and flowing of performance. The likely culprit being the inability to sustain concentration. It is at those times you need to break. Allow for a 10-15-minute recharge session. What I have come to suggestion is a little mobility work. Most students could benefit from improved fitness, but in the meantime stretching is a good alternative. Nothing fancy, but getting the blood flowing and clearing the head should help you reach those high levels of concentration again.

My parting words at the end of the day in order of priority; take care of your gear, get a good meal, rehydrate and get as much rest as possible because we are going to hit hard again tomorrow. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Stay open-minded; stay focused. Train hard and train smart. For me, the older I get,
 the smarter I have to train also, because the recovery time is longer. Work on 
everything: become a well-rounded fighter - don't just be good at one thing; be 
good at everything. Brock Lesnar; American Professional Wreslter and MMA Champion.

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