Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.Vince Lombardi
You are practicing every day? Good for you, but is it effective? Does it really help you to improve? Or are you plateauing on a certain level for weeks, months or even years?
If you want to improve, you need set new stimuli in your practice! You need to step outside of your comfort zone! You need to challenge your doing and work harder every day. You need to use your limited amount of time in a more efficient way and work on your weaknesses.
Easier said than done!
So, how do we do that?
- Where are my strength?
- Where are my weaknesses?
- SWOT Analysis
- Pareto (80/20): What do I need to improve upon, to get better without a huge amount of effort?
- Design your practice sessions.
- Keep track of what you are doing
1. Where are my strength?
This first step should be easy. Most of the time, we know exactly where we are good at doing something.
“I’m good in long distance training because of my high endurance capabilities.”
Or what ever you are good at. Just write it down, or make some mental notes.
2. Where are my weaknesses?
Now, it is getting a little bit harder. We want to find out our weaknesses! Are we really bad at something? Where are we loosing all the time. This can be in racing, but in every other way of life as well. What is just too much of a struggle for me? Where am I just bad?
Again, make some notes. You will need this for the next step.
3. SWOT analysis
Next on todays agenda is the so called SWOT analysis. The letters are standing for strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
How is this analysis working? It is pretty simple. In each field, you look at two out of the four categories and try to find the perfect solution for the situation.
Here are some examples.
In the top left field of the image, you have the combination of weaknesses and threats. This means, you look at your weaknesses and your threats and find a strategy to prevent this from happening.
“One of my weaknesses is, that I am not good at starting from a standstill in the race car. The threat is, that I always lose 4-5 places, just because of this. To be able to prevent this from happening, I need to work on the race starting process.”
Let’s make another example. In the button right field, you see the combination of strength and opportunities.
“My strength is the experience I have on this particular racetrack. This experience allows me, to react in certain situations in traffic in such a way, that I do not lose much time behind slower cars. The opportunity is, that I can deal with traffic much better than my competitors, therefore I can use this strength to catch up with them, or drive out some time during the race.”
The goal of this analysis is not only to get a better picture of what you are good at and where you should improve, but also where you can create opportunities and where you need to prevent threats from happening.
4. Pareto (80/20): What do I need to improve upon, to get better without a huge amount of effort?
In this next step, a Pareto analysis will be done. Originally invented by an Italian man called Pareto, who wanted to show the distribution of all the money in Italy, this method is also called the 80/20 model. How can I get 80 % of the results with only 20 % of effort.
To be able to do this properly, you need work with the results of your SWOT analysis. For example:
“I have found out, that I am not good at race starts. This costs me in average around 4-5 places in the first lap of a race.”
Now we can separate these weakness into different training methods.
For example I can take a book and study the exact principle, of how to have a better race start. But I also could work on my reaction time, the actual process of doing it and so on, and so on. I could change the setup of the car, like adjusting the clutch feeling or what ever.
With the Pareto method, I write down the effect this has on my overall goal to improve my race starts from a standstill in a diagram. Starting with the one on the left, that has the biggest impact on my racing starts. Now, the different training methods will be analyzed and the overall percentage is getting calculated, before the 80 % line can be drawn into the chart. In the image beneath this paragraph, you can see a Pareto analysis for the sales distribution of a certain company. As you can see, there is an orange box, surrounding all the countries, that are included within the the 80% of the overall sales.
For this company, as well for my starting practice, or your problem you want to work at, this chart shows you, where it makes sense to invest some time and where this makes absolutely no sense right now, to get better at the thing you want to improve.
If you tackle everything, that is on the left side of this line, you will improve pretty fast, with the least amount of effort.
If I would invest 2 hours of my time to do 120 race starts on my racing simulator, this will make me improve faster, then reading a book about the mentality of starting a race. But this is obvious, of course! What is really good about it is the fact, that it will show you were to work on next.
What is the next thing I should focus on? The mental or the mechanical part? With this analysis, this is not just guessing anymore, but actually a more scientific way for you to work on your overall performance.
5. Design your practice sessions
Now, that we already know what exact exercises and tasks we need to do, this step describes the creation of your schedule, where we will implement the things we need to focus on, in our day to day business.
I highly recommend you not to do a life plan, where every activity of your day is planned to the minute, but rather have a more open minded schedule, like I already stated out in the blog post #3 about daily habits. It is not important, if you do the task at the exact time you have planned on doing it, but rather that you do this task in general!
6. Keep track of what you are doing
This is the most important step of them all. For me personally, I tried a hand full of different ways to do this. I had hand written sheets and computer based files, I went from day to day summaries to weekly reports and even exact workout protocols.
In the end, a short and easy way of documenting it, where you do not lose much time, is the best way of doing this. But you can try this out by your own. For me, the important things that need to be documented are:
How do I feel? Is it effective? Is it effective anymore? Do I improve? Do I give everything I have? How can I increase the effectivity? Lessons learned, what can I do differently? For how long to I want to work on this?
I wish you fun with organizing your special training programs.
If you have any questions, let me know.
See you next time!