Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Anyone who has spent any length of time will have experienced the challenge of feeling like they are no longer improving. Or if they are, it's slow going... the dreaded plateau.
When it comes to building skill, especially athleticism, it's important to consider that you have an extremely complex network to build. Your muscles need to be conditioned and strengthened over a period of time in order to orchestrate the skill(s) you want to achieve. But further more, you need to condition your ligaments, tendons, and motor skills. You need to build strength, in each of these areas, but also flexibility and mobility, and of course... adaptability. It's a fine balance of discovering what is too much, too soon, so it's always important to listen to your body's signals and work closely with your trainer, so that you can minimize risk, and prevent injury.
One thing is for certain. PRACTICE gets you to where you need to be. There is nothing that replaces practice. Modern scientific research, specifically in the field of neuroscience has proven that the only thing that sets people apart from others, is their time in deep, focused, practice.
You can practice poorly... meaning, there is no intention, no planning, no strategy in your practice. It's imperative to set clear, concise, and MEASUREABLE goals when wanting to achieve skill. You need to have a clear vision, of where you want to be, and what you want to achieve. You can also practice dangerously. Good practice minimizes risk and danger, so that you can achieve your goals without serious and detrimental set backs.
Step 1) Set a clear path/Vision - Step 1 is actually 2 fold. You need to have a clear VISION/OUTCOME and your WHY. Discover WHY you want to do this and write it down. Make sure it is tied to something important to you. For example, your WHY could be: I want to learn Parkour because I want to have the energy and skills necessary to explore my world, travel, and hang out with other practitioners. I also want to have peace of mind so that I can protect myself by learning how to fall, and escape any dangerous situations using my ability to adapt, think and move quickly and efficiently.
Once you are clear on your vision and your WHY, the next step is to create an Action Plan. These are the steps (short term and long term) that you decide you need to take to help you achieve your goals. For example: I am going to to go to Parkour class 2x a week, and achieve 4 basic skill progressions in 3 months. Then I will practice daily movement exercises each day by walking 1 hour each day, QMing for 15 minutes, and doing 10 pull up progressions each day until I am able to get 5 consecutive pullups with full range of motion.
Step 2) Use your Resources - Talk to your trainer! They have the wisdom, knowledge, and short cuts to get you to where you want to be. Use your skills sheets, and read gym literature to enhance your study and focus.
Step 3) Practice. Practice. Practice. We can't stress this enough. When you practice, your body produces a substance in the brain called myelin. Myelin is a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that form a sheath around nerve fibers, and it increases the speed and efficiency in which neurons and impulses move from one area to the brain to the other. This is how you are able to orchestrate smooth and "effortless" kinetic patterning. So in essence, "muscle memory" actually takes place in the brain.
Step 4) Growth takes patience, and the will to overcome challenges. You will undoubtedly experience changes in your physiological processes. Your body may feel soreness, and will need to adapt to the environmental feedback on a continual basis. Constant growth, means constantly enduring and overcoming challenges, so you MUST prepare yourself mentally each day. Remember your Step 1 (Vision) and why you are doing this in the first place.
Step 4) Do NOT use Drugs. Drugs and mind altering substances will inhibit you from achieving your goals because they destroy your body. You simply cannot achieve any sustainable skill sets if you use drugs.
Step 5) Never Compromise your Cognitive or Immune Function. Your brain, also known as your "Governing Meridian"as well as your Immune system are functions that are imperative to your survival. If you do not maintain the health of your cognition and immunity, then there isn't much more your body can handle. Staying hydrated, eating healthy (no processed foods, and eating whole foods that are organic when available), getting plenty of rest, and not over training are ways you can take care of your basic functions. If you are dehydrated, malnourished, or over training, your cognitive and immune functions are compromised. Ideally you want to create and stick to a plan that is a good balance between low impact and high impact training. You never want to only train in high impact movements. Your body needs a break from that, so take into consideration that Free Flow Academy offers "mindfulness" programs to balance out the athlete, but keep you moving and active.
When training in high impact movements, you need to be absolutely focused when training, and it serves you no good to be exhausted, overly fatigued, and over worked. If you over train, you are seriously increasing your risk of major injury. Talk to your Coach if you feel "foggy", overly fatigued, or don't feel like you have the ability to focus or continue. These are conditions that need to be addressed, and it may not be safe for you to continue participating for that time period if you have any of these symptoms. It is your Coach's job to push and challenge you, as well as help keep you safe, so if your Coach is adamant you push through, do your best to accept the challenge. But also note it is always your choice to participate.