Practice Makes Perfect? - Micheal Godfrey


A few people were asking about “how hard should this feel”. These early sessions are not designed to really tax you. They are also sessions for you to get a better sense your “Perceived Rate of Exertion” or PRE. You can use a 1 to 10 scale where 1 is an easy walk and 10 is I could do this for about 15 seconds. For the most part our early sessions are in the middle of the range.

A couple of people came away saying “this was super easy I could do the whole session again right now”. If that is how you felt, hit the + button a few times to crank up the resistance and see how that goes. It should get you closer to that mid range (use the tension as opposed to changing gears). 

By the same token if you came away saying “I was completely shattered” hit the minus button a few times. In this case you are closer to the 8 to 10 range of the scale, we need to pull that back closer to the middle. Not to worry we will get to that 8-10 range soon enough :)

Now for the optional reading, but there will be a test!

Something I heard after the last class was an excitement over improvement already showing up on both standing and single leg drills. And it got me thinking about the entire process of skill acquisition.
 
We have all heard this and probably so often and for so long that we don't even question it. But does practice make perfect? The answer is... kind of.
 
The more correct way of thinking is that Perfect Practice makes Perfect. The process of learning a new skill is nicely illustrated below.
 

 
The sequence starts with Unconscious Incompetence – We don’t know what we don’t know
 
Then moves to Conscious Incompetence – We know what we don’t know. We are getting feedback from the pedals telling us where we have rough spots in our pedal stroke, but we don’t quite have the skills yet to fix it. The coaches job, at this point, is to give verbal cues to help direct you to a different movement pattern, then with perfect practice you move to phase 3
 
Conscious Competence – We know what we are doing, but we still have to really pay attention for the skill to work properly. The new skill is something we have to deliberately do, versus something that just flows from us. Then with more perfect practice you move to phase 4
 
Unconscious Competence – We know what we are doing on such a deep level we don’t even think about it, it just happens (now for the bonus question ask what happens after phase 4)
 
You will notice that I have used the term perfect practice more than once. What does that mean?
Perfect Practice is practice with a purpose. It is being mindful of what we are doing or attempting to do. It is the polar opposite to “mindless miles”.
 
I define “mindless miles” as the guy at the gym on the treadmill reading a book. He is not learning anything about his stride pattern. He isn’t developing his inner feedback loop. He simply has no connection to his body whatsoever. And really why are we doing any of this if not to experience the physical pleasure of movement? (but I digress).
 
Perfect practice does not mean that we have to be executing the new skill or movement pattern perfectly, that will come with time. Perfect practice is paying attention what the proper movement feels like, how you feel or what you are thinking about when your pedal stroke starts to smooth out. It is the active attention to the task at hand the speeds the process of getting from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

The reason that Trev & I talk about stability,  body position etc so often is to make sure that we are not putting in mindless miles. The more we actively pay attention to what we are doing the faster we move through the learning phases and the more deeply ingrained proper techniques become. 
 
The distinction between simple practice and perfect practice is important. If you are simply practicing “what comes naturally” you may actually be reinforcing an incorrect movement pattern. In this instance your hours of practice are just making you better at a bad habit. On this note it is really important to recognize that new skills or changes in habitual movement patterns ALWAYS feel wrong and unnatural. Again this is where perfect practice (and a bit of faith) is so critical. 

See you all soon,

Michael