In this short blog I want to build on the theme I introduced in my previous blog ‘Yes, No, Maybe… Part 1 – Performance. The original model, built on Chris Boardman’s self assessment process to achieve success at time trialling, was introduced to help you establish whether you are performing to your maximum. However, a similar self analysis can be used to help yourself practice more effectively to improve skills acquisition.
As a model of assessing the level of practice you are performing and the likelihood of it developing your skills the ‘Yes, No, Maybe…’ tactic is quite straightforward – you just need to check your answer to the simple question:
Will I be successful at the skill I am about to practice?
If the answer is
YES Then perhaps you are falling into the trap that stalls progress for many of us, which is to practise things we can already do because practising skills we already have is comfortable. Keeping existing skillsets current through practice is, of course, required but a ‘Yes’ answer is a definite sign that you are not about to expand your skillset.
NO This is an indication that you might be taking on too much. Psychologically, expecting failure is generally a self fulfilling prophecy, so unless the skillset you are trying to acquire is deceptively straightforward and a clever coach has given you a guaranteed success formula, the outcome is probably going to be negative. Can the skill be broken down into easier steps that you think you can give a go? Is there a way to start smaller and build up? Usually there is a method to break a difficult skill down into component parts that are more accessible.
MAYBE… Yes, you’ve guessed it, the sweet spot once again. The ‘Maybe’ zone is the most fruitful area of practise for a number of reasons. Firstly, you believe there is a chance of success so therefore have a chance of success and might even be able to visualise what that looks like to make the belief even more powerful. Secondly, you will find the practice satisfying and engaging, and could even enter the ‘Flow’ state; the evidence suggests that challenges that are difficult enough to stretch us but not so great that we don’t think we can achieve them are the optimum conditions to enhance our focus and achieve ‘Flow‘.
So, next time you are heading out for a skills training session think about what you ultimately want to achieve, acquiring new skills or keeping an existing skillset current. If the aim of the session is the former, and it is a new skill that you are hoping to develop, then make sure you are staying in the ‘MAYBE’ zone to have the best chance of success.