Athletic Development – The Process

Achieving mastery in any realm is an enormous undertaking that requires a long, dedicated process. Whether it be learning an instrument, language, or sport, the thread that ties it all together is commitment. The same is true of reaching one’s athletic potential. We’re going to examine the views of one of history’s greatest coaches, discuss the stages of skill acquisition, and highlight a handful of our own athletes that embody THE PROCESS!

Laws of Learning

John Wooden is arguably the greatest coach of all time. He led UCLA Men’s basketball to 10 NCAA championships (in 12 years). He knew basketball inside and out, but what separated him from all other coaches was his ability to make the complex simple. 

In this fashion he stated his 8 Laws of Learning:

Explanation, Demonstration, Imitation, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Have there ever been words more true? Without repetition (practice), there is no learning and certainly no mastery!

Skill Acquisition

Image from Tony Holler’s TFC 2022 presentation

The model above demonstrates the stages of learning/skill acquisition. The end goal is “Unconscious Competence”, meaning you can expertly perform a task without having to actively think about it. We see this in our sports all the time – cutting to avoid a hit, throwing to pick off a runner, releasing a jump shot, etc. We don’t have to think about the actual action, but rather use our conscious mind to read all the other environmental cues – tackler is coming from the left, base runner is rounding second, only 2 seconds left on the shot clock. The actual action based off our thoughts is second nature. 

But we don’t start that way! First we didn’t know what we were doing wrong. Then we know what we’re doing wrong, but still aren’t any good. Next we know what we’re doing right, but still have to think about it. Finally, it becomes second nature. The same is true of the athletic qualities we’re constantly building at RSP. Of course the best results come with commitment – meaning time and repetition (repetition, repetition…)

Living Proof

Brandon started with us in June of last year and ran 16.36 MPH. Since then he has been coming 2x/week consistently and this past week hit a new best of 17.47 MPH. That’s over 1 MPH added in 7 months!

Jon was one of our original members, here with me back in March ’21 the day the doors opened. Back then he was consistently running between 15.7 and 16.1 MPH. Over the last month he’s been consistently over 17 MPH and this past week hit a new best of 17.62 MPH! That’s almost 2 whole MPH better in under a year!

These guys are not exceptions in their results. We see this every week, as I proudly write about in our newsletter. But what these guys have done to separate themselves is demonstrate incredible consistency partaking in THE PROCESS!

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