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Patrick Johnson
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07-22-2019, 01:55 PM

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Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
I am always willing to talk about the zone
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Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
Advice appreciated and noted.
As to the zone, it is a subject I know, have researched, experienced and definitely have ideas about. It’s a great idea for a thread to start.
Here's an old thread about it to get you started:

Directions to the Zone?

Here's what I had to say then:

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Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
The clearest difference to me when I'm in The Zone is that I take simple visceral pleasure in each of the details of planning, visualizing and executing the shot and then even more pleasure in seeing the shot unfold exactly as I envisioned. Then I can't wait to get to the next shot and do it all over again - without a care for what it's all adding up to, just enjoying each moment for its own reward.

It's hard to say just from personal experience if this is a cause or an effect, but knowledgable people like Bob Fancher (in his popular book Pleasures of Small Motions) seem to think it can be an important cause and I've heard that sports psychologists also emphasize it. The question for me is how do we use this information? Can we just will ourselves to "smell the roses"?

And what other experiences of being in The Zone can we identify and try to replicate?
pj
chgo

Last edited by Patrick Johnson; 07-22-2019 at 02:41 PM.
  
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shows why the zone is tough to talk about!
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shows why the zone is tough to talk about! - 07-22-2019, 08:06 PM

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Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
Here's an old thread about it to get you started:

Directions to the Zone?

Here's what I had to say then:



pj
chgo


pj,

I reread that entire old thread. Most of it had nothing at all to do with the zone I am interested in. While hints make me think a couple people might have knowledge of the zone none really expressed the zone I have experienced over and over. It is much more but one of the things it does is let you perform at whatever your personal best is at the moment.

Some of the heightened states may be the zone or close to it. They are reached by martial arts training, or meditation, or most disappointing, possibly reached by drugs.

It may be that these things aren't the same but very similar. A good friend was a very good pistol competitor, the local class of the field. He was also a member of the possum posse. It wasn't too unusual for him to work all night and come shoot a match before he went to bed. One Sunday morning he was shooting his usual stout performance when he absolutely sprayed bullets all over the target one stage. I scored and taped the target so I asked him what happened. He said all of a sudden he was up in the air about twenty feet watching an idiot spraying bullets all over the place without aiming and the idiot was him! He was dead serious and I had to take him at his word. I think we will expand our knowledge in these areas in the future and what appears supernatural now will seem obvious and natural.

Hu
  
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07-23-2019, 04:54 AM

My concept of the zone is this.......see, do......no thought of how to.

Itís the ďthinking of how to doĒ something in the thought process that differentiate being in the zone or out of it.

Being in the zone is letting your reactions freely react without any thought processes.......see, do.
  
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07-23-2019, 06:25 AM

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Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
What do you think is the primary area, of finer distinctions, that most likely will lead to expertise in pool?
Thanks for the post and follow up comments, very good stuff! Fundamentals are super important but there is so much more to the game as you’ve pointed out. Below are a few additional qualities that separate the great from the outstanding:

1. Shot Selection: Once you get to a certain level, anyone can and should run out the table. The trick is to choose the path that will give you the absolute best chance of getting out. Even if it’s only a 1% difference it’s important to diligently weigh all options and choose the correct shot. Getting slightly too flat on a shot can turn a simple run out into a tricky situation where you have force shape which lowers the odds of success.

2. Endurance: Lots of players can play a good set or two but it’s rare for a player to maintain that same stamina at 2am when they’ve played five consecutive nail-biter sets and haven’t eaten much while fighting back through the loser’s bracket. This also applies to the opposite situation where you win a match and then have a four hour break until your next match without an opportunity to hit any balls and stay in stroke.

3. Adjustment: With all things being equal, the player who adjusts to the conditions the fastest has a huge advantage. The conditions are always changing. Cloth speed, cloth cleanliness, cloth age, ball type, ball cleanliness, lighting, and so on. From watching pros, I’ve noticed that they will often use one extra rail than necessary when playing position. Using the extra rail provides them with extra information about how the table plays which allows them to adapt faster.

4. Mental Perseverance: No matter what the score is, how well you’ve played so far, or how bad you’re winning or losing, you need to always have the correct mindset and give 100% effort on every shot.

5. Outcome Acceptance: Bad rolls are inevitable. Misses are inevitable. You won’t always play your best. You won’t always win. The quicker a player accepts and moves on from negative thoughts the better they will perform.

6. Confidence: Confidence is a paradox in a way because you need to play great to develop confidence yet you can’t play great without confidence. One cannot exist without the other. With two closely skilled players, I’m betting on the more confident one.

7. Pace: Every player has an optimum pace/tempo/rhythm that is unique to them and allows them to perform at their best. It’s important to know your optimum tempo and find it quickly in a match. The quicker you get there the better you’ll do.

8. Capitalization: At the top level you don't get many opportunities to pull ahead. Once an opportunity arises, you must capitalize on it. That's one of SVB's major strengths. He always amazes me with his ability to break and run the final rack in a hill-hill match. At the most high pressure moment of the match he finds a way to stay composed and capitalizes on the opportunity to win.

Last edited by FeelDaShot; 07-23-2019 at 06:36 AM.
  
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07-23-2019, 08:10 AM

This post is awesome. The intent of the original topic was to generate options. There is no right or wrong. Each player likely has a unique collage of factors that when present allow their best self to emerge. I’ve added comments to each section. The addition is just that, an afterthought. In some cases it just finishes a thought triggered by the point made. In others it adds addition perspective. The result is thanks to a thought provoking post. Thanks for the time taken to compose and share.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
Thanks for the post and follow up comments, very good stuff! Fundamentals are super important but there is so much more to the game as you’ve pointed out. Below are a few additional qualities that separate the great from the outstanding:
There is no way to get past the primacy of fundamentals. None of the points made in this entire thread matter if you are stuck in your chair.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
1. Shot Selection: Once you get to a certain level, anyone can and should run out the table. The trick is to choose the path that will give you the absolute best chance of getting out. Even if it’s only a 1% difference it’s important to diligently weigh all options and choose the correct shot. Getting slightly too flat on a shot can turn a simple run out into a tricky situation where you have force shape which lowers the odds of success.
There are so many dimensions to this topic. Creativity is one. Seeing the shot to start with. Decision making is another. While seeing a shot as a possibility is important, the decision of whether it’s the right shot, situationally, is another. Finding that right balance is not static. The dynamic of score, available options and risk/reward considerations make each context unique. The decisions are not just about the player. Sometimes the effect your decision can have on your opponent is more important. A bad decision can offer hope, motivation and a whole new world of possibilities. The strategic effect of that compared to taking a chance because you may never get another chance. Never having a regret about the decision allows for commitment.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
2. Endurance: Lots of players can play a good set or two but it’s rare for a player to maintain that same stamina at 2am when they’ve played five consecutive nail-biter sets and haven’t eaten much while fighting back through the loser’s bracket. This also applies to the opposite situation where you win a match and then have a four hour break until your next match without an opportunity to hit any balls and stay in stroke.
This is possibly another, bigger than the player moment. If you are going through a grueling loser’s side marathon, it’s quite likely the same for your opponent. The trick here is to recognize the situation as an opportunity. Watch for the cracks in the other guy’s game. Destroy his hopes by making the path even more exhausting by using tactics. The effect is to transfer the taxing load to your opponent hoping to shorten the match in some cases, in others just to wear him down.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
3. Adjustment: With all things being equal, the player who adjusts to the conditions the fastest has a huge advantage. The conditions are always changing. Cloth speed, cloth cleanliness, cloth age, ball type, ball cleanliness, lighting, and so on. From watching pros, I’ve noticed that they will often use one extra rail than necessary when playing position. Using the extra rail provides them with extra information about how the table plays which allows them to adapt faster.
On slick surfaces, like tv tables, playing a slightly thicker hit to pocket means the object ball absorbs more of the momentum. The use of stun run through and drag allow you to hit with more pace yet limit cue ball travel. It’s a little like hitting banks with stiff pace lessens the difference from table to table. Thicker hits allow the player to send the ball off multiple rails with a firmer stroke. Once again the thicker angle removes pace from the cue ball. There are fewer negative consequences when the difference firm and firmer are just a couple of inches.

Since throw can create a thicker hit by itself this concept needs further explaining. Rather than cut induced throw, I’m referring to spin induced throw. By using inside side we end up with a thicker contact and a cue ball that reacts with a heavier feel. To counter the throw the aim line needs adjusting on most shots. The cue ball turning into contact removes the outside side normally created at contact. Two forces cancelling each other, removes momentum from the shot. The cue ball travels less off contact with the same speed stroke. Stun run through works the same on the vertical axis. The skidding action of the cue ball on the table uses the table surface to take pace off the ball. The combination can have a dramatic effect. A thick hit with inside and stun run through can be hit quite firmly on even a slick surface and not travel very far.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
4. Mental Perseverance: No matter what the score is, how well you’ve played so far, or how bad you’re winning or losing, you need to always have the correct mindset and give 100% effort on every shot.
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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
5. Outcome Acceptance: Bad rolls are inevitable. Misses are inevitable. You won’t always play your best. You won’t always win. The quicker a player accepts and moves on from negative thoughts the better they will perform.
These two seem related. This is about playing in the present. As noted in point 5, you need to leave the bad shots behind you. Turn the page, get onto the next chapter. A tougher one to recognize is leaving the good or great shot behind. How many good shots have led to the players missing the next much easier one. It’s hard to shoot when you are patting yourself on the back.

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Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
6. Confidence: Confidence is a paradox in a way because you need to play great to develop confidence yet you can’t play great without confidence. One cannot exist without the other. With two closely skilled players, I’m betting on the more confident one.
Once again we are looking at leaving the past behind. Anticipation and certainty are part of the predictive process. If you can’t get down and shoot an absolute sense of certainty, a commitment, then some other mindset is there instead. Without certainty there is hesitation and doubt. This isn’t about countering uncertainty, it’s about reaching in to find the right sense of certainty needed. What are you absolutely certain about? If you can’t think about something, consider this. Do you believe you need air to live? If you have any doubt hold your breath for 5 minutes, then answer the question. Take that sense of absolute certainty, hold onto it and shoot the shot. What can it possibly hurt? Rule out a possible better choice of shot first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
7. Pace: Every player has an optimum pace/tempo/rhythm that is unique to them and allows them to perform at their best. It’s important to know your optimum tempo and find it quickly in a match. The quicker you get there the better you’ll do.
The idea of flow as part of the zone has been posited by many. In a book, Flow, the author talks about the absorbing nature, the time suspending effect and pure joy of an activity. Problem is it isn’t always accompanied by peak performance. There needs to be an element of precision, an innate appreciation for exactness in the process. A ball on a string, is often the metaphorical description. Conversely, the ability to stop and reset is important when the certainty, precision or predictability is less than optimal or missing. Other elements rise above pace situationally and that is when flexibility needs to emerge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeelDaShot View Post
8. Capitalization: At the top level you don't get many opportunities to pull ahead. Once an opportunity arises, you must capitalize on it. That's one of SVB's major strengths. He always amazes me with his ability to break and run the final rack in a hill-hill match. At the most high pressure moment of the match he finds a way to stay composed and capitalizes on the opportunity to win.
This is almost like a predator mindset without the need for there to be prey, the challenge is enough. The challenge alone feeds the motivation, stirs the master to emerge, brings the selflessness of detached clarity to the performance. The situation is as much a needed part of the context as any other ingredient. That said, the point was taking advantage of opportunity when it’s offered. I think finding another level to your game is almost a separate point.

Last edited by Imac007; 08-09-2019 at 05:05 AM.
  
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The Zone
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The Zone - 07-23-2019, 08:49 AM

I wonder if something like this could help find one's personal path to The Zone...

Muse - Technology Enhanced Meditation

pj
chgo
  
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07-23-2019, 09:51 AM

pj
I’m going to start a post on the zone. The guided meditation idea has parallels to the "empty mind’ that martial arts try to cultivate. Please be patient as I ponder how best to approach that topic. Quite a challenge me thinks.
  
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07-23-2019, 06:27 PM

WOW. Well I posted a thread on the zone and have nearly 100 views yet no comments.
  
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too much in the first post
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too much in the first post - 07-23-2019, 07:00 PM

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WOW. Well I posted a thread on the zone and have nearly 100 views yet no comments.

101 views now!

You have a tendency to write long detailed posts, a flaw of my own. I used to write and edit things that had to include every detail because the instructions had to be followed explicitly. If I said remove two screws and the new hardware had three things came to a screeching halt until the paperwork was corrected.

You wrote an excellent post but most of it should have been at the end of the thread. It read as a complete article and other people have little or nothing to say. Got to write a teaser to get a thread started!

I'll write my ramblings about the zone, we will see what happens then. Unfortunately it will be long also but not too technical.

Hu
  
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07-25-2019, 05:42 PM

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101 views now!

You have a tendency to write long detailed posts, a flaw of my own. I used to write and edit things that had to include every detail because the instructions had to be followed explicitly. If I said remove two screws and the new hardware had three things came to a screeching halt until the paperwork was corrected.

You wrote an excellent post but most of it should have been at the end of the thread. It read as a complete article and other people have little or nothing to say. Got to write a teaser to get a thread started!

I'll write my ramblings about the zone, we will see what happens then. Unfortunately it will be long also but not too technical.

Hu
It looks like our collaboration on the zone has found some legs. I loved this thread though and thought a post to revive it seemed a good idea. Thanks Hu
  
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We have no control of it but when matters too
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We have no control of it but when matters too - 07-26-2019, 06:53 AM

We can learn things at any time in life but when matters too. Teenagers seem to soak up things like a sponge. My nephew decided to shoot competition pistol with his dad and I at the ripe old age of twelve, not quite a teen. A slightly nerdy seeming youngster like almost all today, we didn't know what to expect.

Some coaching and practice and off to his first match. No junior division but there were four classes and you normally started in the lowest. First match, he won it handily. On the way home he asked his dad and I if he had really won or if he had been given "pity points" because he was the only kid competing with adults. After a long loud laugh we told him no, no pity points involved! He mowed through division after division with ease.

A year or two later he went off to live in a dorm and go to a school for the gifted, his IQ is very high. Pool, tennis, other activities all came easily but I wasn't around to see it. He married a fellow student at the school for the gifted. Their children should be interesting but like many of this generation they don't seem in any rush to make any!

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Decision training
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Decision training - 07-29-2019, 09:31 AM

"I am not young enough to know everything." ~ Oscar Wilde

I finally purchased Perception, Cognition and Decision: The Quiet Eye in Action (2007) by Joan N. Vickers. It turns out her research went far beyond quiet eye evolving into a coaching method designed to teach performance under pressure, decision training.

Standard training in most sports disciplines uses a model based on behaviorism. The idea behind that approach involves simple drills first. Drills are designed to increase in difficulty to help players to progress. Skills are broken down into their individual components to simplify working on each part. While skills develop as expected, research shows they break down over time and devolve. The pressure of competition is a problem for this methodology.

Decision training starts with a different approach. Rather than teach cognitive skills as an add-on, after skill training, they start with the idea of having it integrated with player development. While initial skill drills resemble those of behavioral methods, they quickly evolve with real game dynamics and decision making. Variable and random practice, rather than blocked structured drills train both physical and cognitive skills.

For example, a practice starts by picking a skill to develop. Letís say staying down on the shot is the objective. Problem identification might choose peeking as an issue that leads to the player lifting up on the shot. Putting colored dots along a path or rail to indicate different possible paths or distances after contact might be set up. The player needs to identify which colored dot the ball passed over or ended up at. Or, on a center ball shot, a dotted cue ball might be used and the number of rotations counted before contact.

Setting up random shots the player starts with closest to the hole then as other shots are chose difficulty is increased. Blind cutbacks can cause the player to peek at the pocket. Congestion creates real game dynamics. Partial pocket blocking, needing to add English or speed on the ball can add dimensions of difficulty. The need to stay down doesnít diminish and is now trained under stress related to real game situations.

Before the practice even begins a modeling video or demonstration might be used. A real game situation with high complexity or degree of difficulty, for their current skill level, is shown. The player starts with the idea of the type of performance being trained for. Starting with the end in mind. The skill must challenge the player not intimidate them.

Decision training has become the basis for training many Olympians, soldiers, surgeons and pro athletes since the 1990ís. Evidence shows it outperforms standard behavioral methods commonly used, under pressure. Players learn to coach themselves, evaluate themselves and rely less on feedback from coaches and monitoring devices. Self motivation and self sufficiency build superior performers.

A blogger posted a short overview of the decision training model at the link below

http://nickgrantham.com/decision-training/
  
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07-29-2019, 10:03 AM

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Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
... A blogger posted a short overview of the decision training model at the link below

http://nickgrantham.com/decision-training/
Judging from the quiz there, I'm already a decision trainer. For pool I think one of the most important things a coach/instructor can do is give the student the tools for self-analysis and developing their own drills for their own specific problems. I usually ask new students to come to the first session with a list of a few of their main problem shots or problem areas. Few students can do that well.


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07-29-2019, 11:00 PM

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Judging from the quiz there, I'm already a decision trainer. For pool I think one of the most important things a coach/instructor can do is give the student the tools for self-analysis and developing their own drills for their own specific problems. I usually ask new students to come to the first session with a list of a few of their main problem shots or problem areas. Few students can do that well.
Itís hard for me to evaluate. I could say Iím self taught in that Iíve never had an at the table lesson from anyone. On the other hand that would be failing to acknowledge the time and effort every author and researcher put in on the thousands of books and papers I scoured to build my game. There is a saying about standing on the shoulders of giants that seems appropriate.

Self analysis is the cornerstone of my game. The hardest thing I had to learn was about getting an insight that improved my game and then having to let it go. Growing and evolving involves leaving the old behind. Yet strangely the old often resurrects itself in new modified forms.

Itís a lesson students need to learn. When a player wants to improve, they need to know that every part of their game feels right and wrong at the same time. The results are not what they want, that tells them there is something not right. The way they play the game now, has a familiar feel. If they are going to get better they will need to do some things differently. Itís a corollary of the saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Doing things differently will have an unfamiliar feel. Unfamiliar does not equal wrong, just different. The familiar feeling feels right but itís not getting the results to which the player aspires. Leaving the old feeling and itís false sense of rightness behind is needed in order to turn the page and write the next chapter in their pool story improvement. Itís hard to leave the comfort of our old ways behind.

Itís affirming when the science proves you have guided yourself down the right path.
  
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self analysis - 07-30-2019, 04:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imac007 View Post
Itís hard for me to evaluate. I could say Iím self taught in that Iíve never had an at the table lesson from anyone. On the other hand that would be failing to acknowledge the time and effort every author and researcher put in on the thousands of books and papers I scoured to build my game. There is a saying about standing on the shoulders of giants that seems appropriate.

Self analysis is the cornerstone of my game. The hardest thing I had to learn was about getting an insight that improved my game and then having to let it go. Growing and evolving involves leaving the old behind. Yet strangely the old often resurrects itself in new modified forms.

Itís a lesson students need to learn. When a player wants to improve, they need to know that every part of their game feels right and wrong at the same time. The results are not what they want, that tells them there is something not right. The way they play the game now, has a familiar feel. If they are going to get better they will need to do some things differently. Itís a corollary of the saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Doing things differently will have an unfamiliar feel. Unfamiliar does not equal wrong, just different. The familiar feeling feels right but itís not getting the results to which the player aspires. Leaving the old feeling and itís false sense of rightness behind is needed in order to turn the page and write the next chapter in their pool story improvement. Itís hard to leave the comfort of our old ways behind.

Itís affirming when the science proves you have guided yourself down the right path.


The problem with self analysis is that it is often wrong. If we base it on video it has a much better chance of being correct but when we base analysis on what we think we are doing we will ingrain mistakes. Always competing in open categories, I have competed with world champions, world record holders, and hall of famers. Even they were often wrong when they stated how they did things. They weren't lying, they were explaining how they thought they did things.

One example from pool, which ball do you look at last? Over nine out of ten pro's will assure you that they look at the object ball last. When I was fooling with this about ten years ago I watched many of the pro's on video to see where they looked last. Most locked onto the object ball but then when the stick started forward on their final stroke, many who stated they looked at the object ball last actually looked at the cue ball last most or all of the time in the video I reviewed. As an aside, I didn't find any advantage to looking at either ball last or a spot on the table along the cue ball's path and extended path. If the shot strained my neck, looking at the cloth and letting my eyes relax focus into a thousand yard stare worked just fine.

For the most part pro's don't have great form. They do have consistent form which is more important than great form. However, it would be silly to deliberately build anyone's flaws into our game, even our own. A coach and video can correct things early. I would rather have video than a couch if I had to choose just one.

While I tested heavily decision based on their loaded questions I use a system of small and larger goals. This creates a positive teaching environment where a student can feel they gained something large or small every session. The more obvious thing, a student is not looking at a mountain as more than something in the distance until they have developed their skills fairly well. Setting end goals early is important but end goals aren't primary targets in early training.

A friend's son went to preschool his first day and came back home angry! Turned out the only reason he had agreed to go to school was to learn to read really really well since he had figured out that gave his mom an edge playing games. He had sat through a whole day of class and they hadn't taught him to read! They hadn't even started. He was ready to drag up! It took some talking to persuade him to stay in school and not be a preschool dropout. I don't want students to have those same unrealistic issues. They need challenges but most of them need to be realistic enough that they can meet them in a few weeks or less.

Worked for me and some of my students turned out pretty well. All became competent.

Hu

Last edited by ShootingArts; 07-30-2019 at 04:46 AM.
  
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