Practice makes perfect, that’s what we’ve always been told right?
Unfortunately no one ever told us how to practice effectively and efficiently and we end up wasting a lot of our time and money.
In a sport like snowboarding where the average ski trip can easily cost you hundreds of dollars (or more), we definitely don’t want to be wasting our time practicing the wrong way.
Lifehacker.com has an excellent article on practicing the right way, so let me break it down and explain how we can use this to help our snowboarding.
How much snowboarding do I need to do then?
Well, psychologist Dr. Ericsson is famous for his research suggesting that it requires at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve expert level performance in any skill.
That’s a lot, but it does make sense when you think about how many years the average pro snowboarder has under their belt. However, did you catch the keyword in that first sentence?
Deliberate. We want 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Not just any old practice.
How do you think those pro snowboarders are able to learn new tricks in such small periods of time? Deliberate practice.
How we practice snowboarding:
Most snowboarders practice by repeating the same thing over and over.
Want to learn to connect turns? Spend all day making turns down green and blue ski runs.
Want to learn how to spin a 360? Spend all day hitting jumps trying 360s over and over.
Does this method of repetition work? Sure. Is there a better way to do this? Most definitely.
I’m not saying repetition isn’t required, but mindless repetition is the wrong way to go about it.
The problem with mindless repetition:
Let’s say you’re trying to learn 360s and you’ve got it 75% right. Well, that’s still 25% of the trick that you’re doing wrong and by mindlessly throwing yourself at it over and over, your body is memorizing all sorts of incorrect movements.
Muscle memory can work for us, but when you learn bad habits it works against us. It means we have to spend hours/days/weeks trying to get rid of those bad habits later.
That’s precious time that we could have spent learning a new trick.
Okay, so what is deliberate practice and how do I do it?
Deliberate practice involves repetition, but we actually stop to use our brain as well.
Instead of mindlessly repeating the same steps over and over, we’re actively trying to work out what went wrong, what solutions we have and how we can fix it.
How it works:
- Find the problem (are you losing balance in the air? coming off the rail early? not getting enough spin rotation?)
- Find the cause of the problem (why am I losing balance? why am I coming off the rail early? why don’t I get enough rotation?)
- Identify the solutions (how can I get more aerial balance? how do I get more rotation?)
- Test the solutions (did shifting my weight help? did looking under my shoulder give me more rotation?)
- Implement the solution (repeat the best solution that worked until it becomes your new muslce memory)
- Monitor the results (is shifting my weight still working? should I continue looking under my shoulder when I spin?)
This sounds a lot harder than mindless repetition doesn’t it? Well, it is, but it’s worth it.
Think about it this way:
You’re spending hours upon hours of your time and spending hundreds of dollars (possibly even thousands) over the course of a snowboard season.
If you’re going to spend all that time and money, you must as well get some epic results from all that work.