Learn Faster - The Progression MethodFeb 03, 2023
Learning Trials skills is hard, but it should be easy. Easy in a way that each layer of learned skills build on top of the next. Here's the method that I have been using to get more reps in and build learned muscle patterns or muscle memory that helps to assimilate those micro skills into automatic habits so that my mind is free to focus on the bigger picture when riding.
Trials is hard, but it should be easy. Now let me explain. What I mean is that as you learn each foundational aspect there should be a natural building block of skills that can create good riding technique. I think the problem comes in when our egos and our impatience combine to make us want to do things that are over our heads. Trials has a way of making us feel like a kid again and maybe it's to show off to ourself, or to others, but too often we want to do the cool sexy thing when we still haven't mastered the basics.
I think the main reason that trials is hard is because we somehow forget that we are all still on a journey. We approach obstacles with what we wish we could do rather than what our current skill is. When we can't combine all the little required skills to do something like a zap or hop on the back wheel we often will try again as if some lucky aligning of the stars will enable us to suddenly just get it and have an aha moment. More often it's a slow layering on of elementary building block skills that occur over a number of years.
I imagine a bricklayer building a house and thinking I just want to get to the cool windows and chimney when they haven't even laid a couple of brick layers down. it'll come with time, practice, intentional effort or maybe it won't come at all. If we keep attempting the things that are beyond our ability that frustration and the lack of confidence that comes with it can cause us to not enjoy the journey and slowly build the skills.
Now when I say "slowly build the skills" what I really want to tell you is that there is a quicker way. What I mean is that teaching our brain and body to do complex movements can be done if we practice using a systematic method rather than an unfocused effort. The actual knowledge of how to learn a skill is a skill in itself. Now you can read books on how to best accomplish a skill or learn anything but what I want to describe to you is a progression method that I have come up with.
The Progression Method - TPM - Explained
- Pull out the Micro Skill - Find a safe way to practice it (ie wheelies)
- Use Cue Words to assist with the learning - Rev, pop, slip, etc
- Repetitions - More is better and faster access to those reps will mean more reps
- Conscious Competence. You can now do the task but it requires a lot of concentration.
- Practicing form, technique
- Use cue words to turn thoughts into movements and movements into brain patterns - creating new neurological pathways, brain synapses that fire together - wire together
- Celebrate your success - “Yes!” “That’s the one” Emotions are stored as memories and easier to draw upon them later - shouting brings confidence, fun, enjoyment in the learning process
- Pause and think - what went right - evaluation cements the success don’t just move to the next rep
- Layer those reps or micro skills into more real-world application - full wheelies
- Drill it with time / # reps as a warmup (every time you ride - 1st 5 minutes) The more you do this, it becomes “Muscle Memory”
- Neurological pathways are turning into superhighways - thoughts become easiest / faster / more automatic - it is Assimilated - now it is unconscious competence, and you can do it with ease
- Add Circuit Training
- 3 skills done in sequence to drill in memory recall (don’t want to only be able to do it once with 20 warmup attempts)
- In order to form skills into tools in our “tool belt” that can be drawn upon at any time, they need to be in our long-term memory (10 min - Next phase of warm up)
- Add another layer to that previous micro skill once it is assimilated
- Wheelie longer, another gear, add front brake before, add a rear brake tap while up
- Brain can only focus on one thing at a time, give it the next challenge
- Combine it all for the Macro Skill
"Muscle Memory" integrates and automates frequently used motor control tasks, eliminating the associated conscious cognitive burden and dramatically reducing reaction time.