In my many seasons at Whistler, I’ve met many people who ask, “How can I learn <insert random trick here>?” I’ll usually give them a rundown of the technique and they’ll go off to give it a go.
I’ll check with them at the end of the day, and I usually find out that they tried it a few times then went to try something else. This is NOT how to learn snowboard tricks faster.
Focus means you learn snowboard tricks faster.
There’s a billion tricks, techniques and other snowboard areas that we all want to get better at, but we can’t do it all. If we spread our focus on everything, you won’t see results that encourage you to keep going.
Let me explain:
Let’s say there’s 3 tricks you want to learn right now. You need to focus on learning 1 trick at a time. Why? Two reasons… we are motivated by results and our body needs short term, consistent repetition to learn new techniques and movements.
1) How we get motivated by results
Let’s pretend that you spend 1 week of your time focusing on one trick. At the end of that week, you finally nail the trick after all those long hours of crashing and faceplanting.
How do you feel? You feel awesome (despite all the bruises). You feel like all your hard work paid off.
Now what happens if you spread your focus and work on 3 tricks during that 1 week and you randomly practiced those 3 different tricks on different days. You might manage to learn one of those tricks, but most likely, they’ll all improve a little, but you won’t master any of them.
You could learn it this way, but there’s a longer waiting time where you’ll have to tough it out before you see your effort pay off. The trick here is that you want to focus on 1 thing at a time to see those quick, real-time results.
Humans like to see quick results, we don’t like to struggle for long periods without seeing our work pay off. The longer you keep falling without landing that trick, the more likely you’ll get discouraged and quit before you get the trick cemented into your memory.
This doesn’t apply to every single person, but it sure as heck applies to 99% of us. Personally, I like to see quicker results when I’m busting my butt on the slopes.
2) Muscle memory requires continuous bursts of repetition
If you want a new snowboard trick to get stuck into your muscle memory, then you need to keep practicing the same thing, over and over. What did we do when we learnt to write in school? We wrote the ABCs over and over.
There’s a certain ‘clicking point’ when your body finally gets something. We’ve all noticed it before. Whether it’s trying to master turning on green runs or just getting off lifts, we all reached that clicking point where we just remembered how to do it naturally.
That’s what we’re aiming for. The sooner you reach that clicking point, the sooner you can stop worrying about forgetting about it. Once something reaches that point, we don’t forget it. Sure we might get rusty, but it comes back almost instantly once we give it a couple tries.
If you spread your focus and learn multiple tricks at the same time, you’re increasing the gaps between each practice session for each trick. You might work on 360s on day, but not come back to it for another week.
If you haven’t hit the clicking point for a trick, those gaps will cause your body to forget the things you’ve taught it. Every time you come back to learning that 360, you have to re-learn some of the techniques again.
This is highly inefficient when you could have just focused on one trick and hit that ‘clicking point’ earlier.
At the end of the day, smart learning is what we’re aiming for when we want to learn snowboard tricks faster. We want to be efficient by both working hard on the slopes and working smart as well.