Safeguard Your Skills

Skill: The ability to perform an exercise, like a squat or free standing handstand, with proficiency.

Working towards a skill is fulfilling and helps to guide programming. Developing a skill can have carryover to similar skills and offers a useful way to break through plateaus.

Once accomplished, a new skill can be selected. This poses the question, ‘What happens to past skills and how do we prevent them from falling away?’

I posed this question to my friend and handstand coach Harry Williams (@holisticmovement) and he amiably offered his insights.

Set aside time each week for maintenance

Harry made reference to Ido Portal stating the well-known movement coach dedicates four weekly sessions at 20-minutes a piece to maintenance of his fundamental movements. He was quick to point out that skills quickly regress if not practiced regularly.

Small bouts of practice each week do the trick. Once developed, Harry mentioned, a skill takes very little effort to maintain.

Prioritise movements which offer the highest return on interest

Minimising time spent on maintenance offers the benefit of having more time and resources (energy and motivation) to be spent working on a new skill. Harry suggests working on movements which have carryover to a variety of skills. The Stalder Press being a good example.

Balancing act

Skills will fall away.

Harry admits that honing focus on one skill will  mean sacrifice of another. Fortunately, once a skill has been learnt, it is easily refreshed, with some practice, thanks to existing neural pathways. Riding a bicycle is a good example of this. Even with a significant layoff, riding quickly becomes fluent. Perhaps after an embarrassing moment or too!

What are your thoughts on skills and how do you approach maintenance? Leave a comment below!

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