How to eat an elephant

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Building great skill is like eating an elephant.

Players get instruction today and are usually completely overloaded with information.
 
They are told that they have 75 different things that they need to change.
 
Now, that very well may be true. They could easily have 75 different things that need to be corrected. However, if they try to fix all of those things at once they will end up not being able to fix anything.
 
As a coach, one of the most valuable things you can do is help your players identify the ONE thing that is most important for them to correct.
 
For players to make adjustments effectively, they need help segmenting and prioritizing what their focus should be.
 
Just as business people are less effective when they are spread too thin, and scattered…ball players will become stagnant in their development if they are scattered and trying to change 75 things at once.
 
That is why having a system can be extremely valuable.
 
It is also a big reason why we are proponents of the idea of part practice.


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By breaking these complex movements down into different phases, then helping players blend them together, allows for players to compartmentalize portions of the move.
 
They can then identify which portion has an inefficiency, and relentlessly attack correcting that inefficiency. 
 
Once they have finished that “bite out of the elephant” then they can move onto the next bite. Complete the subsequent bite, and continue moving forward.
 
It won’t happen overnight, but eventually, world-class technique can be built this way.
 
With the proliferation of video, it is easy to dump a huge amount of mechanical flaws on a kid, and tell him all those things need to be changed immediately.
 
Don’t scatter your player’s focus by giving them a multitude of things they need to fix. Instead, take the long-term approach and identify the ONE thing that they should start with.

Help them master that ONE thing, then move onto the next piece.

This way they will actually be able to make adjustments. It will also keep them encouraged because they will be getting small wins more often. Those small wins have the potential to release some dopamine (the chemical the brain releases that tells us to do it again!)
 
It is all a bit of a delicate balance though….
 
It is very important to make sure players are challenged and consistently operating at the edges of their ability. This means that as soon as they master the first “ONE” thing, you need to be ready with the second thing. They need to be constantly pushing that edge and having a specific focus.


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