When I was first learning piano (six years old) my teacher was insistent that any piece be learned at the speed at which no mistakes were made, Didn't matter if it took an hour to play the minute waltz; do it with no errors. Only then could you increase the tempo, and only to the point at which no mistakes crept in. Let me tell you, as a six-year old with the attention span of a squirrel on uppers, I about lost my mind. But when I was ten, and took up trombone, that same slo-mo procedure made it much easier to learn the instrument. Slow repetition, until I got the muscle movements correct and knew just how far the slide needed to go to get the correct note without having to think about that aspect of playing the piece. I could concentrate on the music itself, not the mechanics of producing the individual notes. I'm still a rookie ball pianist. Maybe Low-A. But the issue is physical, not mental. Short, stubby fingers do not lend themselves to the task. On trombone, I was AAA, maybe even AAAA. The technique just flat-out works.
The benefits to slo-mo training? ... cascade as follows:
=== Getting Your Inner Grok On ===
Let's say that in a self-defense dojo, they're going to teach you a defense to a drunken knife attack (ha!).
Most places, the instructor will "demonstrate" it in full speed with a cooperative student, mostly for the sake of impressing you. Then, he'll give you two or three checkpoints about the defense, explaining with a fair amount of drama why you want don't want to block this other way, 'cause you could have it hit you in the face, or whatever. Then he'll say, be sure to turn the wrist back THIS way, cause if anybody gets cut that way IT WILL BE THE BAD GUY!, and etc etc.
In aikido, likely a student will attack in slow-motion with a wooden blade, and the sempai will shift the back foot and back hip, in slow motion.
Stop. Why move the foot that way? Why move it that particular distance?
And so on.
Here comes the energy, in slow motion. The sempai's forearm glides up, smoothly, as the sempai's back knee dips a bit and the sempai exhales. The forearm makes a "cross" under the attacker's forearm, at a very particular place on both forearms.
Stop. Why do the forearms touch there? What happens if they don't (which, in practice, they will not)?
Okay, the contact between forearms takes place. The sempai's forearm begins turning in a corkscrew motion, and the back foot begins swinging around, as though the attacker is pushing open a window. The blade seems to be "engulfed" in the attacker and the attacker's forearm is very safely riding on the outside of the sempai's forearm; there is NO chance of blade touching either party, or a third party. How exactly do these movements relate?
It's beautiful to watch, and happens to be a movement I can execute myself pretty well at parties and whatnot. But try it with a Shotokan green belt. :- ) He doesn't even get his wrist UNDER your blade, much less under it at the right point. He doesn't "grok" the way in which the attacker's leading hand "pushes" him out of the way.
Watch the average American hitter in the on-deck circle -- high school, college, more often than in the majors. If he's swinging, he's swinging in time to the live pitch on the diamond, as though he were hitting a home run from the on-deck circle.
In the majors they do this usually with the first little bit of a bat launch, but then check their swings.
Contrast Ichiro, who is doing what? Rehearsing his swing -- in slow motion. And stretching out his lower body, so that he can engage his weight in the movement. And meditating.
In aikido, there is a saying: "Before you can take another person's balance, you must first learn to control your own balance." Ichiro is not out on the on-deck circle visualizing home runs. He is making sure that he himself is well-organized, that his own responsibilities (within the sports moment) are taken care of.
It's the difference between "greed for success" -- skipping all the boring vegetables to get to dessert -- and being "in the moment." As Bruce Lee said, "It's not about winning. It's about perfection."
The first thing that slow-motion training does: it gives you, for the first time in your life, an understanding of everything you are doing. Then, and only then, can you repeat it at will, and modify it at will, and accomplish it at will under crisis.
First understand, then predict, then control. First learn walk, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.
I wish I'd thought of that when I was playing. What a pitch-perfect application.
Get it perfect, then speed up a bit, and a bit more, and a bit more... Eddie Van Halen says he can still play all of Clapton's stuff note-for-note.
I had a thought today regarding Smoak and his current mental approach to his development. It may have finally dawned on him that his raw talent is not going to be enough to cut it.
Not trying to boast here, but to illustrate my point: Growing up I was always intellectually superior to most of my peers. Not genius, or even VERY intelligent, by in high school I got 4.0's and 1400 SAT scores without any significant effort. This created a sense in my mind that I was the smartest person I knew, and if I applied myself I could easily be the top of any class I was in, regardless of subject.
This continued while I was in the military, getting promoted quickly and winning awards even though I had no intention of staying in. It was easy.
When I got out to pursue engineering, I thought that it was gonna be more of the same. "You're crazy", people would say, "people drop out at a huge rate because it's so hard". These people didn't realize they were talking to ME. Don't worry guys, I'm different. I'm talented.
First semester Calculus. B minus? Oh that was just an aberration. I was sick for a couple weeks. Won't happen again.
Second semester Calculus. B. First semester Physics. C+. What is going on? Guess I gotta work a little harder.
Third semester Calculus. B. Linear Algebra. B-. I worked my hardest! What is going on?!?!
What was going on is I had overestimated my own raw talent and underestimated the intellect and drive of both my classmates and the genius of our scientific forefathers. Newly humbled, I knelt before the reality of my fallibility and viscerally realized that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. Not nearly.
But with that realization I rebuilt my study regimen from the ground up, and that gave rise to a genuine humility that was necessary for my development. Being smart just wasn’t going to be enough at this level. I had to be smart and humble and driven and sacrifice many things that were very dear to me.
Based on the quotes I’ve heard over the past couple years from Smoak, I think he’s arrived at the same crossroads. Before we heard “I’ve hit in the MOTO all my life” etc. His whole life he’s been the biggest, strongest, person he knows. He’s worked reasonably hard, very hard in fact, but perhaps he hasn’t truly, VISCERALLY, realized his fallibility in the face of the genetic freaks he’s been tasked to compete against.
He didn’t analyze pitchers before? Really? While at first that may seem like ego, it’s more likely just naivete to the truly fantastic abilities of the pitchers he’s facing.
There are a miniscule number of Newtons, Einteins, Feynmans, and Eulers. Men born with brains that can invent branches of Physics and Mathematics. I thought I was at their level. I just laughed out loud at the thought. Absolutely ridiculous.
There are a miniscule number of Ken Griffey Jr’s. Men genetically engineered to be good at hitting and catching baseballs. Perhaps Smoak thought he was one of these men. With his experiences all his life, it could be difficult to think otherwise. He’s always been the best baseball player he knows. Why would that stop now?
I think this news bodes very well for Smoak. He may never put it all together, but coming at the game from a very humbled perspective is going to be his best shot at it. I’m excited to see what he’s gonna do this season.
Great post Nietzche (interesting choice of moniker). It's very possible you may have nailed what's going on with Smoak. Here's hoping, whether that's it or not, that Smoak recovers his career trajectory, 'cause we gave up on Carp in order to protect our investment in Jason.
Per my previous post, in my opinion: 26 year-old, team-controlled, high-upside, cheap Mike Carp was sacrificed to create a roster spot for Raul who is a 40 years-old 1-year wonder with declining skills and an expensive contract. Without Raul, Carp has a roster spot.
I was, at first, in favor of the Raul signing...or at least understood why ity was done (because we wanted to lock in a stoploss in case we whiffed on higher targets)...but now, in light of the additional moves that were made, it looks very incoherent and has likely cost us a valuable player for nothing.
Same basic story for me. Home schooled, had essentially graduated high school by the time I was 13 but decided to go to public HS for sports a couple years. IQ150 on the nose, ranked 99.991 percentile on national aptitude/intelligence scores, etc..
Went to nursing school, got 3.7gpa on prerequisites in my sleep, then first quarter in program bam! 2.7. rededicated myself a smidge and cruised to a 3.7 for the rest of the program.
Got into online business, thought would be more of the same. Ha! There are some REAL geniuses in THAT field, I've come to find out over the last five years of daily battle. Still struggling to keep up with the curve...have essentially abandoned the idea of getting ahead of it.
Respect for your opponents does funny things to your psyche. You''re right: humility makes you better. You stop headhunting for he knockout, or the cheap checkmate and you start grinding for points day in, day out. Some people, the revelation hat there are MANY fish bigger than them, it breaks them. Others, it's just the fires of the forge, tempering them into something much, much more dangerous.
Great post. Keep it coming!
That transition, from "ain't no thang" to deep respect for the challenge, is critical for you super-talented guys who are going to ACCOMPLISH anything great.
Now that you bring it up, it seems very likely that Smoak ran into something pretty similar there. If so, good for us.
We all realize that young ballplayers get better. There are 1000's of possible reasons why. Am sure that this is a very common one.
Great stuff Nietzsche! (And thanks for the backgrounds guys. Fascinating.)
Was slomo for learning the featured maneuver of the day. It was all about balance and progression. Doing a Granby roll doesn't work no matter how hard you flip your body IF YOU HAVEN'T CLEARED YOUR HIPS, and seeing as that particular move is all speed and explosion, it was the only one I specifically remember going back to again and again through the season, and man did it pay off.
We'd spend fifteen minutes balancing our postures during he first two or three steps of the process, and we'd pause at the point where you are posted up on one arm with your feet side by side, then SLOOOOOWLY twist your feet until they were crossed, which is the moment you spring the trap and reverse position by flipping your legs over your head in he direction of your opponent, taking him with you.
It's a speed/surprise move, so you have to learn it as slow as possible. If you just try to flip like a spastic monkey, you get stacked up and pinned for your trouble because you didn't create the requisite space and angle. But if you can FEEL the exact moment to strike like a viper, then the worst case scenario is you resume the previous position and have gained he initiative. Only way to get that feel is by slow, precise repetitions.
We were easily the best school on our circuit at Granby's.
Exactly! I'm not a great chess player; I was only fifth chair at my high school. But I'm a much better player during a game of attrition. Work, work, work for position, get that one piece ahead, and turn it into an endgame advantage. If I knew what caused it I'd fix it, but whenever I got impatient and went for a quick knockout I seemed to always have blinders on and miss something that boomeranged on me. I was the king of "DOH!" long before Homer Simpson... I think nowadays they call it facepalm.
That was the same message I got from the article. Basically that Smoak did better the second half of 2012 because he was actually preparing for the pitchers and the games like he should.
Really disappointing... IMO there's simply no excuse for someone at his level not putting in the effort to be the best he can be. I realize that not everyone can be Michael Jordan, but c'mon... it took him 3 years of struggling (in a most extreme fashion) to figure out that maybe he should actually prepare for his job? What a waste of God-given talent.
The only solace I can take from this is that it does provide a plausible reason for him to improve this year.