In a previous blog, we introduced the concept of “deliberate practice” and how it can improve our Krav Maga training. Deliberate practice involves several elements. One of them is focused or design specific practice.
Geoff Colvin, author of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, writes that most of us at “the driving range or at the piano…are just doing what we’ve done before and hoping to maintain the level of performance that we probably reached long ago.” (68) In other words, we are not adapting our practice in a focused way that improves our capacities. In fact, such unfocused training leads us to plateau or even regress. By contrast, he points out, “deliberate practice requires that one identify elements of performance that need to be improved and then work intently on them.” (68)
There are aspects of everyone’s performance – the singer, the chess player, the businessperson, the actor, the teacher – that need to be improved to elevate their performance. The great performers, Colvin writes, “isolate remarkably specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they are improved.” (68)
Sidney Crosby considered one of the best hockey players in the world, realized that being primarily a dynamic playmaker his opponents were expecting him to pass rather than shoot. This made him easier to cover. To improve his game, he worked on developing his shot and his ability to deflect the puck into the net. He spent countless hours focusing on both skills and the results showed. To use an example closer to home, my oldest daughter has recently begun playing volleyball and has developed a very good “bump”. Now, to improve, she is going beyond her comfort zone to focus on other elements in her game – serving, setting, etc… These activities are not as fun but they make her a better player.
This approach can be applied to Krav Maga. There is always something to improve in our practice. Over the past two years, for example, we noticed that while students and instructors were performing self-defense techniques with decent proficiency, our striking was generally mediocre. Accordingly, we have focused in on striking and striking combinations, at the beginning (and sometimes for the duration) of virtually every class. During these striking sessions, we isolate certain elements – body rotation, recoil, footwork, rhythm, etc… to improve our striking. We go beyond our comfort zone to focus on elements of our performance that are not strengths to make us better Krav Maga practitioners.
Most importantly, these focused efforts improve our ability to protect ourselves.
Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. New York: Penguin Group, 2008