Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Train Smarter Not Longer

Are superior athletes born or made? While the subject of some study and debate for well over a century recent pop culture has trended toward the made point of view as exemplified in Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' which posited, among other things, The 10,000 Hour Rule. In brief the idea is that expertise in a given field is a matter of practice whether it be sports, music, the arts, etc. And Gladwell glommed onto the idea based on an anecdotal study of musicians done in Scandinavia. Anyway, it sounded good and had a sympathetic audience that liked the notion one could do or be anything they wanted if they were simply willing to put in the time. Except of course it isn't true.
Follow on studies and a recently concluded meta-study make it clear the 10,000 hour rule claim is overblown. Yes, practice improves performance and does make a comparative difference but it only explains part of the difference between the great and the good and the also ran. If the latest data is correct then simply putting in the hours offers no guarantees. What then should the dedicated and determined competitive paintball player do? Train smarter not longer. And that goes for the grind too. I understand that the grind represents dedication and instills a sense of pride for those who put in the time and make the effort but--there's almost always a better way to go. Train smarter not longer. If the grind is no more than repetitious play and trial-and-error learning there is a better way. Train smarter not longer. (Have I made myself clear or do I need to say it again?)
If the sheer volume of time given to practice isn't the answer then what is? What does train smarter mean? Truth is it's a long list but here are a few things to help point you in the right direction. Mastering foundational skills, learn the game, prepare completely and don't sabotage yourself or your team. Mastering foundational skills is an ongoing process, dare I suggest, constant process of honing your technical and physical skills. Your ability to compete successfully is directly related to your ability to shoot your gun, move around the field and stay alive. Playing alone will keep some players sharp but more often it tends to dull our edge. Learning the game is less about the rules and more about the conceptual framework behind the game. For example, competitive paintball is a game of angles. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages inherent in the angles is critical to smart play and helps guide our choices during play. Preparation is the key to team success and the aspect of practice least well understood by the modern player. Proper preparation frees the player's mind and is the basis of effective execution. And when I say don't sabotage yourself or your team I'm referring to the tendency to let things slide. After all, we're all friends here and nobody wants to be that guy. As Yoda once observed however, "Do or do not. There is no try." How many teams fail to consistently communicate on the field? Why? It's usually not from lack of talking about it. It's a lack of accountability. Brothers, friends, teammates, whatever if you are serious about competing everyone must be accountable to the team. There is no excellence without accountability.
Okay that should give you a little something to think about.
What else could you or your team do to train smarter not longer?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I watch the local teams practice and all I see is the same 5 on 5 or a derivative there of.Most of the talking is from the coach yelling to players. Seems as though it has become a crutch for multiple players.And if you think that isn't you,think again.A player HAS to be able to "see" the whole field in his head at THAT moment.Be it from what he see's visually or hears from his teammates.Put that information together and you are already ahead of your opponenent.Everybody on your team is responsible for what happens or does not happen.Tell me BEFORE I make that bump that the mid dude filled in that lane.Because when I find out you are not paying attention I'm gonna be pissed.I don't care if your gun or hopper was down.The first thing the players have to ask is "have WE done whats needed to help this guy and his gear issues"? If so then I blame YOU if your gear isn't working.Can't handle that? Then you will never be part of a true team.Just the same if my gear goes down I feel like shizz because I let my team down.And if no one calls me on it,I worry. Why? Maybe they expect my lack of preperation.Which means they are waiting for it to happen again.Not good. All players can be replaced.Everyone on the team is accountable for the team.Seems guys love to celebrate the wins and point the finger after losses.I don't care how good you are I don't want "that guy" on my team.Give me the dude that has taken the time to motivate others and not ridicule. One who can find his or her flaws in a win or a loss.