The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. I see this first hand with students in our classes when it comes to diagnosing their shooting.

More Meat on the Bone

There has to be a baseline. A starting point to begin this journey. For us, it comes in the form of multiple assessment drills. I have to make evaluations of overall shooting ability in a short time period. Using only one drill is too thin. There needs to be some substance, some meat on the bone. Usually after the first couple of assessments I can make some broad determinations for initial guidance. As we progress through the class we further refine the assessment until we reach a decent understanding of demonstrable skill. I wish it were easier or faster, but to do it right it takes a little time.

Frequency and Intensity

During this process I’m assessing the big picture, then gradually narrow down to the most common shooting errors. We see them so often in classes, we’ve labeled them over the years. There are ten errors broken down into three subgroups. Each of these subgroups allows me to further peel the layers back to see what is really happening. No matter the class, beginner to advance the errors are the same. The difference is frequency of performance and intensity of error. A beginner student can be expected to make the common mistakes more often than advanced student. An advanced student can be expected to make common mistakes with less intensity than a beginner.

Bracketing Theory

Beginner's Curse 2
Coaching a student through corrective strategies

We use what we call corrective strategies; which is a series of steps to remedy the error. The key is to remedy the error permanently. Through these strategies we provide the student with a simple set of instructions. It’s like going to the eye doctor and looking through their vision device. They ask you which image is the best, lens A or lens B. We kind of do the same thing. The reason we do it is three fold.

Correcting in Real Time

The first is to force the student to recognize there are varying degrees of performance. One suggestion might be to place the trigger finger at an extreme position. Regardless of their feelings, perform the drills using said extreme position. It helps the student recognize they need to be applying more precision to their movement. The second reason is to ensure the student can demonstrate their ability to follow instructions. In some cases, when I ask them to perform the drill based off their shooting error, the remedy should solicit a specific response. If the desired response is not achieved it is most likely the student’s inability to perform the task. This points to a new set of problems, but it centers around their inability to focus and be consistent. The third reason is to measure progress. When the student performs the first technique to a minimum standard we then jump to the other extreme. This has an innate ability to bring the problem to the forefront of the students brain. They can literally see the error being made in real time. When the student can see in real time, their ability to self correct becomes possible. Then future range sessions stand a higher success rate as a result.

The Never Ending Process

The hard part for the student is being able to move slow enough to see not only the errors in real time, but how the corrective strategies solve said errors. It is thrilling when they understand. I like working at continued improvement through this method. The curriculum needs to reflect that somehow and this gets into a much more complex subject; curriculum development. Instructors need to structure their curriculum to provide the opportunity for this type of self discovery. I see most curriculum fall short. They fall short in not providing the opportunity for the student to continue refining their technique.

The Devil is in the Details

Providing group coaching on common errors

The other problem instructors face is when a student(s) cannot climb out of their hole. You do run into student(s) occasionally who cannot see the tree within the forest. Which is just the opposite of the forest for the trees. In other words, they are not able to see the details and continued progress is halted. Or, they continue to make the same mistakes, only reinforcing them. The balancing act the instructor needs to perform is providing the struggling student with safe evolutions that allows them to progress at their own level. Much more difficult than it sounds, but it typically allows the student to achieve the same results at a slower pace.

Begin the Process

The bottom line is providing students with multiple options at correcting their shooting errors does produce results. The results may not always be tied to the outcome. The results may show the student is not ready to take on the specific task. Or, it may show the student needs an altered approach to the specific task. I like giving the student two options, but no more. I find it hard for them to manage two let alone adding more to their plate. However, it is rewarding to watch them apply one approach, then the other. Compare the outcome and make an informed decision on the best technique moving forward. I will caution all, you cannot scratch the service with applying the options. You must make an earnest effort; which generally requires time and repetitions.

Sometimes, two is better than one. Being able to give the student two workable solutions with strict parameters is a faster way to the finish line.

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