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How To Get Good At Something...


Cobie Fair
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How does one get good at anything?

 

We get some form of this question often, "How can I get ___________ good?" Whatever the blank is: drag a knee, use a lot of lean angle, ride as fast as one's friend, a coach at the school, etc.

 

Is it all natural talent, big cajones, mental toughness, education, seat time, the latest bike and tires, cool suspension bits, good advice from friends?

 

What about other sports/activities, what format of training works there too?

 

As is obvious to anyone who has been at the Superbike School, we think correct information is a good place to start. Go over the theory, get a solid understanding of it, and there is a priority of information. The information that is most critical is presented first.

 

In the absence of a school, one could read the material available on the subject. A thorough review of the books and material available would be the next option.

 

This is first in a series I have in mind, but want to see if the subject piques your interest or not.

 

Let me know what you guys think on this please.

 

Best,

Cobie

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How does one get good at anything?

Cobie;

 

There's a joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall in NY, the punchline is "Practice, Practice, Practice."

 

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this concept in detail in his book Outliers. He says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a task. His models include The Beatles, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

 

Rainman

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Desire + time + money = get "good" B)

 

Desire - you've got to WANT to get as good as you can. Without that, all the time and money will only take you so far.

 

Time - you need it. You need a LOT of it. Why? To practice practice & practice. You might have the desire & the money, but without putting in the time (practice), you're going nowhere.

 

Money - you need LOTS of it, to support your habit. Equipment costs money. Track time & schools cost money. When you are out practicing, you are not earning money. The more you practice, the less you earn. Gotta pay the bills B) .

 

And this is pretty much why I'll never be REALLY good at anything, because I generally only have ONE of the three (desire). I need more time & money!!!! :D

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I think along with all the practice everyone has mentioned you also need good instruction and coaching, for example if you have a bad golf swing all the practice and time is only going to net you so much improvement since your practicing a bad technique to begin with, at some point your bad swing will become so ingrained in your muscle memory that when you do learn the proper technique its all but impossible to relearn it.

 

Also to truly become a master of something I think one of the most important parts is to start extremely young, the number of top world champion riders who started riding at Age 3-5 is astounding, lots of practice is great, but lots of practice while your brain is still learning how to interact and interpret the world around it is much better.

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How does one get good at anything?

 

We get some form of this question often, "How can I get ___________ good?" Whatever the blank is: drag a knee, use a lot of lean angle, ride as fast as one's friend, a coach at the school, etc.

 

Is it all natural talent, big cajones, mental toughness, education, seat time, the latest bike and tires, cool suspension bits, good advice from friends?

 

What about other sports/activities, what format of training works there too?

 

As is obvious to anyone who has been at the Superbike School, we think correct information is a good place to start. Go over the theory, get a solid understanding of it, and there is a priority of information. The information that is most critical is presented first.

 

In the absence of a school, one could read the material available on the subject. A thorough review of the books and material available would be the next option.

 

This is first in a series I have in mind, but want to see if the subject piques your interest or not.

 

Let me know what you guys think on this please.

 

Best,

Cobie

 

Well, let's see... I wanted to get good at riding a motorcycle.

Natural talent? No.

Started at a young age? Nope.

Big cojones? Definitely not! :)

 

So I guess in my case the answer would have to be good training!! :)

 

Thank you CSS, who ever imagined I'd end up racing motorcycles?!?

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How does one get good at anything?

Cobie;

 

There's a joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall in NY, the punchline is "Practice, Practice, Practice."

 

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this concept in detail in his book Outliers. He says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a task. His models include The Beatles, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

 

Rainman

 

Listening to Paul McCartney sing these days I'd say you can also practice too much, he needs to quit. wink.gif

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This is a really interesting question. On top of what everyone else has said:

 

Focus - Early in my riding career, I found that *really* focusing on the CSS drills does wonders in understanding the techniques you are practicing. It is very easy for our minds to wander and get through 5 laps on the track and say, oh yeah i'm supposed to be quick turning this session. It is often easy for ones progress to be undermined by procrastination, or losing site of the goal.

 

Doing Something Wrong - This is a technique CSS practices today. Go out there and do something the way you know you're not supposed to do it. That way your mind can weigh the consequences and benefits between both methods and you can develop your own conclusions as to why you should do something a certain way. This technique I think should be used sparingly and in some cases not at all, for example skydiving.

 

Easily Digestible Content - Many people are gifted with the ability to take a very complex subject matter, and explain it or teach it in a way that makes sense to persons who are not dedicated to the field. As a trainee or student, it is invaluable to have someone with a wealth of knowledge on the subject matter who can take their many years of experience and wrap it up into a few simple sentences or illustrations to relay the concept. I personally love seeing illustrations as in many cases they can be more valuable than words.

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How does one get good at anything?

 

We get some form of this question often, "How can I get ___________ good?" Whatever the blank is: drag a knee, use a lot of lean angle, ride as fast as one's friend, a coach at the school, etc.

 

This is a pretty deep subject. I'm sure there are lots of philosophies and opinions. Here's mine...

 

1. Learn the technique.

2. Develop consistency.

 

Generally people who are good at something do that thing exactly the same way every time. Regarding track riding, this is why we memorize reference points - so every lap can be as consistent as possible. Some people seem to have more natural ability to do this than others. School, coaching, books, instructional videos, etc., will show you how. Once you can do that thing the way the experts have proven it should be done, then you have to figure out how to do it the same way every time. When you reach the point where you are doing something "right" and consistently without having to really think about the technique, people will look at you as an expert. If you have natural ability to master an activity to this point, then you can start looking for ways to improve on what the experts taught you.

 

What is considered "good" always evolves. How often are sports records broken? When someone outperforms what everyone thought was as good as it could get, everyone studies what the record breaker did and imitates them. It's been my experience in those few things I'm actually good at, that doing it correctly, then repeat exactly the same way is the key. Usually, when you look back at a sub-par performance, you can identify the point where you did something differently from before. Occasionally, if you do it better than before, you might create a new technique that others will imitate.

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I also think focus is a big part of it, every time I go out and ride the instructions are in my head....knee against tank, outside arm resting on tank, light on the bars, smooth throttle roll on, ect ect.....the more turns you take with focus the more muscle memory it becomes. For example I don't even have to think "look through the turn" or "throttle control" so when I am out there riding those are natural and now I can focus on the other things like where my knee is on the tank, the gap between myself and the tank, light on the seat ect ect.....

 

It's just like any other sport, the more time you spend doing anything the better you become. Nobody wakes up one morning and goes to every riding level at CSS and 2 months later is in AMA lol. I haven't been riding very long (about 7 months now) however I am taking the time to learn the proper way to ride fast instead of doing all the wrong things for years and call myself an experienced rider. It's not how long you do something but the quality of the time spent.

 

I also believe that some people are always going to be more natural at things then others, unfortunately no matter how hard we work on something you may never get to that point when the next guy got there with half the effort. This is why my 5'5" body is sticking with road racing and not basketball lol....

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I also believe that some people are always going to be more natural at things then others, unfortunately no matter how hard we work on something you may never get to that point when the next guy got there with half the effort.

 

Sad, but true. I have been track riding for two full seasons now, and a have made a lot of progress (about 1:43-ish when I started at this track down to 1:29s now). But even so, every couple of track days some kid will show up with a taped up R6 or R1 or GSXR for his first day ever, blast past everyone in the novice group, move up to intermediate for the afternoon, and beat my lap times by a second or two. They typically know nothing - they just show up and ride fast. I'm happy for those guys and admire their talent, but in another way it can be a bit disheartening to see how easy it is for them!

 

Fortunately at this stage in my life I don't have a lot of ego to manage. I just concentrate on my own improvement and accept that there will always be a bigger gorilla in the jungle.

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For me it's the bite-size training (sa said above), which is something you also do in martial arts. You practice one thing, slowly, then the speed and complicated stuff follows by itself. After that it's practice, not purely time, but practice and experimentation, to drive home what you're trying to learn. Natural talent would be nice! But you did ask how to become good at something, not just to be good at it.

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Excellent responses. Brought up some areas I hadn't thought about initially. For example, we have what other training can help? As in the case where money is an issue (for most), alternate training can help. In shooting, there is tons of practice that can be done without going to a range. In riding, many use small dirt bikes to work skills in the off season. Pretty sure that will include just about every top rider. Like to go into this a bit more, but the next one I had in mind was this:

 

Evaluation. This would be of material being trained, and results achieved. We get lots of rave successes on the school days, but the proof is in the pudding: what happens when the rider leaves. Did he get a result in improved lap times, greater confidence, less work for same result, greater constency, greater safety in his street riding, etc.

 

Some riders are a bit narrowly focused on their training and results. Some have a pretty lofty goal that doesn't look entirely reasistic. Many do notice a difference, we get tons of feedback about what they do notice.

 

I'll expand one more step regarding evaluation: honest and objective evaluation. Often people are hard on themselves, too hard. "Man, you came to ther track for the first time, rode a new motorcyle, dropped 20 seconds, cleared up some fundamental misunderstanings and you are unhappy because Joe Blow is faster?"

 

Evaluation would also apply to choosing the correct material, the correct training program, the correct school or instructor. I think I'm pretty easy to train, due to my training here (and training I've gotten related to my duties here). That being said, when I take other training, I'm somewhat particular about it. I want very solid data, taught by very competent trainers. First, do we have the right materials, the correct data? Next, do we have guys that are good at training that material?

 

This is the first time I have attempted to voice this in this fashion, I'd like to know what you guys think. Unfortunately, 8 solid days on the road doing schools or training starting tomorrow, I won't get to this likely for a week...please don't let that keep you from putting your 2 cents up!

 

Best,

Cobie

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