One of the biggest challenges in skill development is determining when to try to make progress with a drill, and when to spend more time.
I get messages from coaches all the time saying that they are working with a player on a specific habit but unsure if they should move on from a drill, or continue until the player gets things PERFECT.
I remember having this debate with myself, and I want coaches to understand that part of that feeling will never go away. We never really KNOW for sure… we are just constantly taking educated guesses and looking at the evidence.
But my feelings on this have also evolved over the years…
EARLY IN MY CAREER
The early part of my career as a shooting coach I had a base level of knowledge but no idea how to work outside the box. Every player I worked with was someone that I tried to make look a certain way.
Because of this, I wouldn’t move on from a drill until I felt like a player was doing it near perfectly (whatever that really meant).
Some players progressed really well, some had trouble applying what they were learning into games and never really got better.
AS I DEVELOPED AS A COACH
One of the first real improvements I made as a coach was to be able to make adjustments to a player’s natural shooting motion, rather than trying to fit everyone into my theoretical box.
I started to loose the reigns on perfecting a drill and focussed more on improving and learning.
I wouldn’t really move on from a drill until I was comfortable the player could execute THEIR best version of the drill.
LEARNING FROM SKILL ACQUISITION EXPERTS
Over the last couple of years I’ve been learning a lot more about the science of skill acquisition. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I need to embrace the messiness of the game.
I’ve learned to stop chase perfection in a drill because the game is not a drill. I’ve learned to constantly change, adjust and manipulate drills to mimic the game a little more.
It’s hard. In the beginning I felt like workout were scattered. I was used to doing a certain number of shots from a certain number of spots, and know I was saying to players “experiment with different location, don’t do exactly the same thing twice in a row.”
And where I used to move on from a drill only when I’ve seen MASTERY of that drill, now I move on much quicker.
Now I look for signs of being able to execute the habit we are working on. The second I see a sign, I’m changing the environment slightly.
I might be making the SMALLEST adjustment, or I might even be simplifying the situation to make it easier for a player… but I’m constantly adjusting.
As soon as I see a glimpse of progress, I’ll test if they are ready for more. Sometimes you see right away that you were wrong and simplify again. Sometimes you need a few reps to see if you made the right decision. And sometimes you see right away that you didn’t add enough.
The game is imperfect so I’m look to build repeatable habits, not PERFECT habits. I’m looking to create an appropriate level of challenge in all drills, and add more and more variability as skills improve.
This is the framework I follow in my ONLINE WORKOUT PROGRAMS to build better arc, get the guide hand off the ball, or improve a player’s balance.
We work to build a new habit, and then constantly adjust the situation depending on how the skill is developing. Players are given 7 workouts that get progressively more challenging, and are encouraged to bounce between the workouts to build and test their new skills.
Join HUNDREDS of other players and coaches that are improving by getting one of my ONLINE WORKOUT PROGRAMS today.