Tag: learning

Just Take A Lesson

Proprioception is something that we rarely think about (bada boom, no pun intended). It’s the sense we have of where our bodies are in space. It’s why you can drive a car without looking at your feet on the pedals. You can walk in a completely dark room without losing your balance. You can type without looking at the keys. And why NFL receivers can make those amazing stretched out end zone catches with their feet staying in-bounds. Your brain keeps track of what all the appendages are doing at all times without you thinking about it. Some of us just do it better than others.

My first real awareness of this was an experimentation period with barefoot running. I’d just finished Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” and decided to go all-in on barefoot running. I went with the Vibram Five Fingers shoes and hit the trail. If you’re not familiar with them, there’s no sole or cushion – just a thin layer of rubber to protect your feet from scratches and cuts. Needless to say, landing on a rock while running hurts. A lot. I spent much of those early runs with massively bruised feet. Eventually, someone pointed out what I was doing wrong. I was watching my feet when I was running. I was so busy trying to avoid rocks and “direct” where I stepped, my running was awkward, clumsy, and I constantly stepped on the rocks I was trying to avoid.

The secret is to not look where you’re going. Instead, look way ahead down the trail. Your brain sees all the terrain and creates a map of where to step without you being aware of it. If you stop thinking about it and let the brain and proprioception do it’s thing, you become smoother, faster, and avoid the rocks. It seems very counter-intuitive. You’ve done it yourself many times without realizing it. Walk across a room carrying a very full coffee cup. If you stare at the cup as you walk and try not to spill, most likely you’ll start spilling. Look ahead and stop thinking about it and your brain, arm, and hand will take care of the balance just fine.

What’s my point with this? Our conscious thoughts often get in the way of learning new skills properly. Take the golf swing. The average downswing takes about a quarter of a second. Your proprioception WILL get the clubhead to the ball. The problem is you may unknowingly have to do all sorts of weird contortions to get the clubhead back to the ball depending upon what you did in the backswing, setup, etc… Here’s where conscious thought gets in the way. I’m someone who was traditionally too cheap and stubborn to take lessons. Instead, I’d spend hundreds of dollars on the driving range pounding away at balls thinking I can “fix” my swing by myself. I was sure I knew what I was doing wrong. It was just a matter of enough practice. When it finally became clear that wasn’t working, I broke down and took a lesson.

That first time I saw my golf swing on video I was blown away. Everything I thought I was doing, had nothing to do with what I was really doing. My conscious brain would lie to me and it would “feel” like my hands or hips were doing one thing, but in reality they were doing the opposite. It was an ah-ha moment for me. My stubborn insistence (and cheapness) that I can teach myself has probably cost me significantly over the years. If I’d been willing and open years ago to taking lessons for many of my sports, I suspect I’d be much more skilled than I am today. I’m a reasonably coordinated and athletic person, so I’ve been able to make things work. But I could have been so much better.

I’m now at a point that I have the time, resources, and willingness to take lessons. I’m embracing it. I’ve been going to a personal trainer and have been making gains far quicker than I ever did by myself in my garage gym. He’s correcting horrible form that I “felt” was correct. I took my first ever ski lesson this season. A few simple changes have made things more effortless and really dialed in my carving turns. I never would have figured that out on my own. I’m doing a big block of golf lessons because I want to stop fighting the game and enjoy playing. It’s very obvious now that I can’t do that on my own watching YouTube instructional videos.

Our bodies and proprioception are an amazing thing. But unless you’re one of those .001% of gifted natural athletes, most likely your conscious brain will get in the way of correct movement. But as Mrs Troutdog has told me for years (and I didn’t listen), even the top pros have coaches for a reason.

Whatever your sport is, go take a damn lesson.

Everyone Likes Popup Ads, Right?

  • I have two computers. One is powerful enough to dim the lights when I turn it on, which I use with a nice large monitor. The other is an older tablet with a fairly small screen. The older one does just fine for writing the occasional email, looking up directions, or crafting a fabulously witty blog post. What I can’t do with it these days is surf the internet. Not because of the processor or memory, but because of the screen size. The last few years the number of popup ads have gotten so out of control on some web sites you literally can’t read the article or content when you have limited screen real estate. There’s now the EU mandatory cookie acceptance popup. Twelve other ads that will be in various states of loading. A popup apologizing for the popup, but while you’re here will you subscribe to our newsletter? The X or cancel button on these ads are either tiny or sometimes fake so you accidentally click on the ad. Once you’ve cleared out enough popups that you can start reading the content, video content from some ad you didn’t see will start auto-playing. Some news sites have a layer of ads every paragraph and a half you need to navigate past. The latest fad seems to be letting you read 1/3 of an article, then forcing you to click a button to “Continue Reading?”. I get it, everyone needs to generate revenue and page clicks/views. I should know, I’ve generated a grand total of $0.49 cents in ad revenue from this blog since 2019 (yes, that is the real number). That’s practically FU, make it rain money. I know it’s a plea that’s as pointless as trying to stop the old school paper junk mail, but is there any way we can limit the number and amount of screen real estate devoted to ads? If an single, well placed ad, is compelling and relevant I actually might investigate. If I’m swatting ads away like mosquitoes in the Alaska backcountry, I’m angry, stubborn, and will boycott any ad I see on general principle. I don’t fault the advertisers, I understand how it works. I fault the content providers. They control the real estate, look and feel for their site. There are a few news sites that have become so hard to navigate due to the ads that I rarely visit any more. Sigh, I guess that’s the price we pay for “free” content since I’m too cheap to actually subscribe to any paid content.
  • The Biden administration has put a gag order on the border patrol and DHS about releasing any information about the current self created disaster on our border. This order has supposedly been passed down verbally so there’s no written record of it to tie back to the administration. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Truth, Jen Psaki, deftly performs her “you need to speak to DHS on that” dodge, knowing full well DHS simply refers requests back to the White House. Either that or “I’ll need to circle back on that”. So much for the most transparent administration ever.
  • Biden’s former aid said he’ll most likely propose $1 Trillion in new taxes. Yesterday they had to clarify that the proposed income threshold wasn’t $400,000 but $200,000 for some “modest” tax increases. Ever notice that government never proposes “modest” cuts to spending? I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to increasing certain taxes if the government first made an honest attempt to slow down spending. But don’t first spend like drunken sailors, and then tell me you need more money. Maybe we should stop borrowing so we can send aid to foreign countries? Sigh, just like the popup argument, it’s pointless and only makes me mad.
  • Rules are only for the little people. After countless stories of families being kicked off flights because their two year old struggled with wearing a mask, our Climate Czar John Kerry was caught on a flight without his mask on. His response? “Feels like there’s some St. Patrick’s day “malarkey” afoot on Twitter. Let’s be clear: If I dropped my mask to one ear on a flight, it was momentary.” These asshats never take responsibility for anything. Meanwhile American Airlines has dropped the investigation. See if the same will hold true when you get caught without your mouth diaper on.
  • A week from today the White House confirmed President Biden will hold a press conference. I suspect that’s the amount of time needed to prep and coach him with answers. Well, and to properly vet all the questions beforehand.
  • I’m taking a motorcycle class on Saturday. Mrs Troutdog took the beginners class to get her license and now wants to take the level two class. I’ve never taken a motorcycle class, even though I’ve been riding for years. I agreed to take the class to support her, plus learning new things is always a good thing. I’ve found that the most dangerous people are those who think they know everything. There’s always something to learn, no matter how experienced you think you are. Besides, it may help boost my confidence on the new ginormous motorcycle. This class is taught on Harley Davidsons… and I’m a dirt guy. Who knows, maybe after this I’ll be buying leather pants and traveling to Daytona Bike week?

Song of the day: Pearl Jam – Alive [Pinkpop 1992]