Today’s reader question:
You talk about muscle memory a lot, but how do I know when a trick is clicking and my muscle memory has mastered it?
Okay so I’ve definitely talked a lot about needing to get snowboard tricks cemented into your muscle memory, but I’ve probably been a little vague about the exact progression from totally new trick into 100% mastering it and having it IN your muscle memory, so let’s dive into that.
Basically you’ll know when a trick is cemented into your muscle memory when you can execute it as if it were second nature.
It’s similar to how you walk without having to think “Okay, I should move my leg forward and step forward…” That’s when you’ll know you’ve got a snowboard trick cemented into that muscle memory.
I think the real question here is “How does your snowboard muscle memory progress? Is it instant or gradual? Will I notice my improvement?” so let’s dig into this further.
How snowboard tricks ‘click’ into mastery
The ‘click’ is what I say when your muscle memory has mastered a certain trick and you can do it first try, every-try without thinking (which is every snowboarder’s goal when they learn a new trick).
So, when does it happen and will you notice it? For me, it’s a very gradual process. I kind of talked about it in the past blog on ‘Why You’re Going To Get Stuck In Your Snowboarding‘ but I never went into real detail about how each progression stage works.
So let me fix that here and explain the different stages of ‘clicking’ in depth.
Inching towards mastering a snowboard trick
You definitely don’t suddenly go from landing a trick 1 try out of 10 to suddenly nailing it 10 times out of 10. It’s a lot of back and forth.
For example, when I was learning my first backside 360s, it went something like this:
- Never landing a 360
- Barely landing a 360 trick once, then immediately being unable to do it again
- Landing a backside 360 every 2-5 tries, but not knowing where I was during the spin (no aerial awareness)
- Landing a backside 360 30-50% of the time and being able to spot the landing a little and do a grab in the air (aerial awareness)
- Inching from 50% up to 90-100% success rate when I try a backside 360.
- Finally cementing backside 360s as a second-nature trick
This was spread out over the course of a season and honestly that last stage is the one that’s hardest to pin down because you ALMOST have mastery of the trick, but every now and then you still totally screw it up and have no idea what went wrong.
As I said earlier, it’s a lot of back and forth and the entire period between stage 1 and 5 has a lot of jumping around. One day I’d totally have things nailed and one day it would go backwards again and I’d ‘lose’ the trick.
In fact, there’s so much back and forth that I don’t actually remember exactly when it clicked from stage 5 into stage 6 (where I am now), where I can just spin a backside 360 without really thinking about it.
What I do remember is noticing things like “Oh.. I actually have some idea where I am in the air” and “I think I’m understanding this… but some tries it messes up and I have no idea why” then eventually inching towards one day noticing “I haven’t had to think when I do 360s these days… sweet!”
The bottom line
It’s a gradual process and there’s going to be A LOT of back and forth between the stages. Until your muscle memory actually has it 100% cemented into memory, you’ll wake up some days and suddenly screw up even though you had the trick the day before.
However, if you look back at the progression of the trick over a long period of time, you will notice things like “Oh… I am landing it more!” It’s a gradual effect, so when you’re still learning you don’t notice it as much, but when you look back at it you’ll notice the difference in your riding.
It’s like looking at your progression when you learnt to write the ABCs. There wasn’t a big different between day 3 and day 4 of writing the letter ‘a’ repeatedly in your little notebook in Kindergarden.
However, if you look back at it, there’s a huge difference between day 1 and day 50, even though the change was so gradual that you didn’t really notice it at the time.
So basically your progression when learning tricks is just like learning to write the ABCs… except you don’t have a teacher yelling at you and giving you homework assignments that have to be signed by your parents.