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Seventh article in Dan BC's series on training for peak performance, extracted from his much-loved book, Above All Else…
The process we just described of turning your best into your average, and allowing a new best to emerge on its own will work quite well. If you stick to this plan your team will see steady and consistent improvement. But for all teams there will be times in the training process when you feel like you are not making any progress, like you’ve hit a plateau and can’t get past it. That new best just isn’t emerging as expected. It may even seem like the team has stepped backwards. This is when it’s time to up the ante.
We can’t wait any longer for that new best to emerge on its own. It’s time to push ourselves and reach for new heights that our team has never seen a glimpse of in itself. It’s time to just gun it. Go for it with reckless abandon and see what happens. Keep the pedal to the floor and find out how far you can push it. It’s going to be a lot of fun. At this stage of your training you will lose a lot of consistency. Your scores will almost certainly go down. The frequency and magnitude of the team’s flying errors will dramatically increase. You’ll need to maintain your sense of humor and be able to laugh about it.
Keep the pedal to the floor and find out how far you can push it... Your scores will almost certainly go down.
Your scores will likely go down. But, you will absolutely discover a new best. In the midst of this madness there will again be brilliant moments of spectacular moves. They may not happen 15% of the time. But they are happening. Recognize them, define them, analyze them, start a new 'best of' dvd and begin again the process of turning this new best into your average.
In the midst of this madness there will again be brilliant moments of spectacular moves.
This stage of your training serves another purpose. It provides the opportunity for the team to fly with total disregard for the scores and results. Not only that, but you have been ordered to make mistakes; lots of mistakes, big mistakes. If you are not making mistakes than you are not applying yourselves to the task at hand. During this stage it is your job to just go for it, have fun and see what happens.
The chance to truly experience this carefree attitude is invaluable. Having actually trained in this attitude, you will be able to tap into it when you are experiencing feelings of performance anxiety, and worrying about the meet results. These fears are ones that at times we impose on ourselves, so it us who can replace those fears with more playful thoughts of going for it and having a good time. You will be more successful at replacing those fears with these positive thoughts if you have trained the positive thoughts. This stage of the training is the opportunity to do that.
The chance to truly experience this carefree attitude is invaluable.
We must decide during each part of our training whether we are working on the skill of performing at our best or pushing our best to new heights. We cannot do both at the same time. As individuals working to excel at our sport, we are never satisfied. This is certainly true in Formation Skydiving. Our best is never good enough and we can always see room for improvement. As soon as our best even minimally begins to evolve into our average we immediately want to push further. Pushing too soon can have negative consequences.
1) We wouldn’t have spent the time and had enough practice and success at developing the skill of performing at our best. Consequently, this essential skill and our confidence in it will not be as developed as we need it to be when we are in competition.
2) We are much less likely to be successful in our effort to achieve a new best. Reaching for a new best is more effectively accomplished when launched from a solid platform of consistent performance.
Reaching for a new best is more effectively accomplished when launched from a solid platform of consistent performance.
In competition, our goal is to perform at our best. Is it crucial that we have spent a significant amount of time training the skill of performing at our best so that we are confident we can deliver our best performance at the meet. To accomplish this we must be clear during training as to which of these is our performance goal. Performing our best and pushing our best are two completely different processes.
These processes are polar opposites. We need to decide during every day of training if we are aiming to perform at our best or to push our best to a new height. We cannot allow ourselves to make the mistake of doing one when we are actually intending to do the other. If we are not very clear and disciplined as to which of these goals we are training, we may inadvertently fly as if pushing the speed when the plan was actually to fly at our established best. The jumps will be inconsistent and riddled with errors. Since we were under the impression that we were practicing the skill of performing at our best we will attach these frequent errors to our best performance process and lose confidence in the process, when in reality we weren’t being disciplined enough to execute that process in the first place. We are not giving ourselves the opportunity to build the confidence in our processes that we deserve and that will need when we arrive at the meet.
If we do realize that we were actually pushing it when that wasn’t our intent, we will understand the reason for the inconsistencies and errors. We will become more disciplined about executing the plan. Our confidence in our system of performing at our best will remain strong and unharmed.
These two entirely opposite processes cannot exist together. For best results we must finish the process of turning our best into our average before trying to make our best better. We must become so consistent that our best happens naturally for us. At that point we have built a strong foundation and are in the optimum position to launch from it and reach for a higher target.
Finish the process of turning our best into our average before trying to make our best better.
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