Today’s reader question:
Is it better to practice one trick at a time or practice several tricks for more diversity?
Very good question. I think it depends on the situation and how developed you are with each trick. Let me explain in more detail below:
1) Are you practicing brand new tricks?
If it’s a brand new trick that you haven’t mastered yet, practicing one trick will be better because you can focus and repeat the same trick over and over inside a short period of time, which leads to faster muscle retention (aka. your body will remember the trick quicker).
Working on just one new trick at a time is a great way to focus your learning and master a new trick quicker than you normally would. Techniques like hiking a jump/rail are great examples of focus for learning that one new trick at a time.
2) Are you practicing tricks you already know?
If you’re practicing to fine tune tricks you already know, I think you have more options. You can focus OR you can practice multiple tricks at the same time, both are possible options depending on what you’re doing.
So how do you pick between focus vs practicing multiple tricks?
For me, the key is whether I’m adding any new movements to the trick or whether I’m just practicing old tricks to prevent myself from getting rusty
Any time I add a new movement that I’m not familiar with, eg. learning to japan air backside 360 vs a regular backside 360, I tend to focus on that one trick until I figure it out. However, if I’m just practicing technique on an old trick that I already know, I’ll practice several tricks at one time.
I do it this way because as I mentioned above, I find that your body will pick up new movements quicker if you repeat it over and over during a short period of time.
So, here’s how I’d practice in the Whistler Blackcomb park jump line which has 4 jumps in a row:
If I’m adding a new movement, eg. japan air grab on a backside 360, my practice will look like this:
- Jump 1 = Backside 360 with japan air
- Jump 2 = Backside 360 with japan air
- Jump 3 = Backside 360 with japan air
- Jump 4 = Backside 360 with japan air
However, if I’m practicing to keep my different spins from getting rusty, it might go like this:
- Jump 1 = Switch backside 360
- Jump 2 = Frontside 360
- Jump 3 = Switch frontside 540
- Jump 4 = Backside 720
So the key is when you learn new movements, repetition and practice on one thing is what you should aim for, but when you’re practicing old movements that you already know, variety is great to make sure you practice and maintain technique on a wider range of tricks.
Tip for advanced riders:
If you’re more advanced, you’ll have a larger bag of tricks which means you’ll have a larger amount of tricks to practice if you want to avoid getting rusty.
There’s only so many runs you can do in one day, and you might not be able to practice every single trick you know over the course of a day… so how do you pick which tricks to practice?
My advice to that is to pick tricks with totally different body movements. For example, you may have noticed above that instead of practicing backside 180, backside 360, backside 540 then backside 720 on the 4 jumps in the park, I picked 4 totally different spin directions.
This way I know that even if I don’t get to practice every single spin trick that I know, at least I’ll cover the 4 main spin directions and practice 4 different body movements.
Don’t forget you can extend this to rail tricks as well. So if you were hitting 3 boxes, you could do frontside boardslide on one box, switch 270 on 270 off on the next box and finish with a 50/50 on the last box.
Mix it up when you want to practice a variety of different movements.
Hope that answers your question and happy riding!