The secret to proficiency gains.
Photo Description: I am on a fit tire bike setting off on a ride with a child who I had recently taught how to ride a two-wheeled bike without training wheels.
It feels like Tuesday was just yesterday, but it wasn’t!! It’s been seven days, and now it is time for Coach Tip Tuesday again!!
When people seek out my assistance as a coach, they are usually seeking to improve *something* in their training. Many times, they feel that they are not as proficient as they could be or as they want to be in a particular area. And so, they seek me out and trust me to guide them into proficiency.
I couldn’t teach others how to become better at something if I didn’t understand it myself. Nothing is truer than that. But something else I’ve learned to be true is this: *I* have become more proficient in many areas of sport because I am constantly teaching others. And thus, we have this week’s tip - the secret sauce to proficiency gains: If you want to become proficient at something, teach it to someone else.
An athlete came to me earlier this summer and told me that they didn’t feel comfortable starting or stopping on the bike. I met up with the athlete for an in-person session, and I broke it down for them. We went over each micro-step of the process to clip in, and then we did that in reverse to clip out. And once we had broken those processes down, we practiced them until the athlete was sick of it.
Something wonderful happened as a result of this: The athlete felt SO much more confident about their handling skills on the bike because they were learning something new to them. And something else wonderful happened as well: I had to think about something that is “second nature” to me (because I am *extremely* comfortable starting and stopping on a bike) in a much different way than I typically do so I could meet the athlete where they were and teach it to them. And so, not only did I get to practice this fundamental myself (remember how we’ve talked about how focusing on fundamentals will take you far??), but I gained more detailed proficiency in an area where I was already strong simply because I had to force myself to think about it differently than I have before. THIS - this forced reflection, notation, and brain exercise - is absolutely a secret sauce of proficiency gains in any area of sport.
So. If you want to increase your own proficiency in a given area, teach that thing to someone else. It could be someone who doesn’t have as much proficiency as you, or it could be someone who has more!! I teach other coaches all the time, and many times, they have more knowledge than I do. There are also many days when athletes teach me things or force me to think about something in a way that I haven’t ever thought about it before. When circumstances like these happen, they teach ME more, and then we ALL learn. It’s a win-win, my friends.
There you have it. Teach others. And you’ll learn more than you ever thought possible. :)