Is it possible to improve several skills at once or learn new tasks together? The answer, unfortunately, is no. One thing at a time.
The first thing I do, when working with clients, is ask them “what do you want to improve”. Usually, they will list 3-5 areas of improvement with each area requiring hundreds of hours of mindful practice to achieve. I understand the message, which is “I care about my skills and I want to perform everything well”.
The mind is not a multi-tasker, instead we store “skill sets” in our subconscious, which allows them to be performed without conscious thought. Mastery of a skill requires a singular pursuit of fundamentals. We need to perform each “skill set” in isolation until we deeply understand the mechanics and can execute them on demand. We have to be able to isolate the weaknesses in our performance and set a training regimen that allows us to address one thing at a time. This is pattern I use to improve my areas of weakness.
Pick one movement to improve, gather information from several trusted sources and begin to experiment.
- Break the movement into subsets of skill.
- Work each subset alone, until you have the most efficient movement, which allows you to do things sooner. This practice must be mindful, and we must stay on task.
- Work through each subset in isolation until you can perform that skill well.
- Put all of the movements together, slowly at first, with care to perform each movement with as much detail as possible.
- Speed is next, go faster until it begins to fall apart, recognize the area of weakness, and then practice the failure point until it improves and you can execute it at greater speed.
- Finish with a slightly slower movement with attention to what you are seeing and feeling.
This practice will take dedication to staying with your goal, maybe for several months at a time, and that is perfectly fine!
- Pressure test with drills and competition, to see if you are improving or if you need to refine your practice.
- You must always be mindful, and not endlessly practicing without paying attention to the information you receive from your practice. It helps to write your results down or use video to breakdown your movement.
- The most important part is your relationship with the truth, seeing yourself clearly is absolutely essential for improvement.
- Your improvement is relative to the amount of mindful practice you perform daily. Example: 10 minutes of focused practice is better than 1 hour of distracted practice.