Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From amateur learning 2

When you train under a pro, the way they teach you is different. Especially, if you are going to learn something as a pro that you have already played as an amateur. If you are learning for the first time, there is no unlearning or what you typically want to call as instinctive.But if you have played the game before, a long time goes off in erasing those bad habits and learning the new way.

The new way, or coach way you will observe in most of the games is all about technique. Each day you have to go through a warm up, a few routines, learn a few things and then try it out and see if you can bring it all together. They key here is learning those techniques and replacing those old methods with these new methods until it becomes "instinct". At that point, you will always, no matter what, not run to pick the shuttle in the court, but take steps. You will, no matter what, keep your guard up, not down. Your footwork will, no matter what, never let you down.

How does that happen? Pure practice. Nothing else.

And then the game that you play is a game of technique versus technique. What your opponent does versus what you do - both of you know essentially the same thing, right. How error free is your game versus your opponents. How many gaps can you pick versus your opponents. It is almost like a chess game where your opponent pit your moves, mind and strategy against each other.

Point being, it takes time. A lot of time. And willingness.

Take a closer look at sports training, trainers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From amateur learning 1

There is a big difference in learning something in an amateur way and learning it in a "professional" way. And by professional, I dont mean, learning it in a way so as to make money out of it. When I say professional, I mean, learning it from a coach than by learning it yourself. Or learning it the right way is perhaps a better way to put it.

We all learn to play badminton for instance. The way we play is an antithesis to way it is played in a "real" game. In the way we learn, the objective is to hit the shuttle at the player -so that the amateur game does not get spoilt by having to pick up the shuttle. Also remember, most of the time, the amateur game is played not on real courts, but just a few lines that define the boundaries. And really, we are playing, "goodminton" not badminton - where the objective is to keep the shuttle in play, not outwit your opponent. You play this way for a few years and then by chance hit the courts for a "real" game and then realize that the whole idea of the game is to outwit the opponent which in turns means that you hit "cross" or "away" from your opponent is standing. The objective is to outwit your opponent by tiring him and making him run cross court (which is the longest distance).

Take Scrabble for instance. Scrabble, when played in the amateur fashion is all about making long words and creating as many opportunities for each other to "join" words. Yes, you will try and block some of the scoring opportunities, but the thrill is about making long words. And yes, dont think of making 2 and 3 letter words - they are for sissies. And then you realize that "pro" Scrabble is exactly the other way round. You dont necessarily make long words - the idea is to use those 2-3 letter words and create a lot of "joining" opportunities with those small words and crowd your opponent out of the scoring tiles and use them yourself.

A lot of times, the transition from amateur to professional happens in ones own minds when you figure out that you can win by using these techniques. It is apparent, but not quite obvious at first sight.

Part of the answer is in the fact that when you play as an amateur, you play for fun. When you play as a pro, you play for fun too, but the fun is in winning through strategy. More on this!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coming up...

I was discussing with an uncle on Professional Courses and in those few minutes, we ended up discussing quite a few thoughts.

Like, the effect of having coaching classes for professional courses.
Like, how everything is broken down to beat the system.
Like, how does one find ones own intrinsic motivation.
Like, the need to know how to break through the first inflection point during studies and get to the next level.
Like, the need to work with ones own hands right from childhood.

The answer for each of these may not be intuitively believe to be wrong (and there may not even be a right or wrong answer) and I hope to examine each of these over the coming few weeks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Strength and Weakness

Each time I have had a discussion on strengths and weaknesses, the question I have been asked or faced with is should I work on my weak areas or areas of strength. Conventional wisdom states the former, but over the last few years the view has veered towards the latter. Certain weaknesses are "fatal flaws", but other than that I believe that working on your strengths are far more rewarding in the long run.

I cant think of a better example than sports. And in particular, this story comes to mind. The story of the one armed boy who learnt judo.

But think about it. Think of how Virender Sehwag would have felt when he was drafted into the Indian cricket team to partner with a certain Sachin Tendulkar. It is a different matter altogether that not too many people have as de-cluttered a mind as Sehwag (read this interview of his), but any other person in his place would have worried about how they can ever keep pace with Tendulkar.

So, if you were Sehwag and you were in the team where a certain Tendulkar was already there, what would you do? Remember your goal is to maintain your place in the team and perhaps carve a name for yourself.

There are two options - one, try to fit in the great mans shoes and second - do your own thing.

Most people when they move into a job or position where the outgoing position was held by someone successful make the mistake of doing the former. They try to fit in their predecessors shoes. And that is always a losing proposition - the comparisons are inevitable and it is a slippery slope into oblivion.

And when faced with that situation, remember Sehwag and Tendulkar. You can never out-Tendulkar a Tendulkar. You can only out-Sehwag a Tendulkar. Take any situation (industry, movies, sports, wherever) where a reigning champion has been dethroned - it happens only because the incumbent has used a different approach and that approach has to be based on the incumbents strengths.

Therefore, it is always smarter to focus on ones strengths rather than papering over so called weaknesses giving you an "all-rounder" who is good at a few things, but not great at anything.

So, hone your strengths like crazy!