Want to be Better?

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: Beast Challenge, Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you closely examine most sports training programs you’ll see that up to 90% of the recommendations revolve around improving your physical abilities such as strength, endurance speed, agility, explosive power etc. It is rare to find specific recommendations for improving technique.

The physical qualities are of course, extremely important. But without simultaneous improvement in technique you will not see much improvement in game performance. Keep in mind that the ultimate objective of all training is to improve the athlete’s ability to execute and execute well, the skills that are needed in order to be successful in gameplay.

In sports such as baseball this means the ability to throw the ball fast and accurately not only for the pitcher, but for all the other players. In addition, the player must be able to hit the ball well not only for a home run, but for singles, doubles and triples. He must be able to run fast and in some cases, quickly reverse direction.

Most of these skills are not unique to baseball; they are also needed in other sports. If the player cannot execute these skills well, he will not make the team, or will not last very long if on the team. This is the bottom line.

The player must be able to execute the skills and he must be able to execute them very well. If not, there is only a slim chance that he will play because of exceptional physical abilities.

To be able to demonstrate your physical abilities is mainly important in testing, not in playing. Being the strongest, quickest, or most explosive person on the team means little if the physical quality is not hooked onto technique. In other words, you must be able to demonstrate the physical ability as you execute the skill technique. They must be joined.

For more information on this topic see Build a Better Athlete. To see how skill is combined with development of physical abilities in specific sports also see: Explosive Running, Explosive Basketball Training, Explosive Golf and Women’s Soccer and Explosive Tennis.



Technique is an often underlooked quality in whatever we do and the way to train it has been bastardized to a degree and what we are actually training.

As we look today towards what Sports Training entails, it becomes more strength, strength, strength, rather than Skill, Skill, Skill and although this had led to faster, more powerful athletes, it doesn’t necessarily make them better on the field.

As related to how I will incorporate this idea into my strength training, we must go into what are the different layers of skill development to understand the different ways to take it and a new way to look at strength training. Similar to the line of thinking that “Strength is simply a Skill,” learning to change random muscle firing into more accurate precise synchronization. In other words, teaching a muscle to contract harder and the muscle fibers to “line up” better.

Yes, You Can!

The subtleties of skill involve 5 main components:

1. Development of Skill itself

2. Development of Variations of Skill

3. Development in Application of Skill towards different Varieties

4. An effort to Master Skill on all degrees

5. Master the skill and it’s subtleties (what many feel have done, but can not really say they have).

*****I will be showing different Kettlebell Press videos throughout the entire article as an example ft. Lou McGovern, RKC participants and Master RKCs, Mike T Nelson, and Phil Scarito.

Development of Skill

The easiest way to answer this is simply thinking am I doing the skill Itself to get better at it. For example: When I wanted to achieve better Sprinting, I was conflicted by differing advice of should I increase my power or should I develop my max strength. During this time, I did not even think should I just develop my sprinting technique better?

In terms of Pressing the Beast, I first must think am I pressing? And am I pressing enough? Problem with how my body has worked has been increases in strength without training. Basically I didn’t plateau in my Skill development in terms of weight training. Although my training was non-linear, I never had feared that I would lack the strength to do what I wanted to do.

For example: going from the 24kg to the 32kg, was from me actually playing around with (not formally training) handstand pushups. Going from the 32kg to 36kg was from learning how to move my head better. Cranial drills for the Z-Health people.

Thinking this through, since the start of my challenge: This now leads me to pursuing the skill of pressing close to 50x a day each arm, followed with mental imagery and watching others who have conquered the beast challenge several times a day. Even on rest days like today, I am still thinking about how to press, pistol, and pullup and make it better.

Development of Variations of Skill

The development of Variations of Skill is often the most conflicted part of Skill development because of the SAID Principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands – The Body Always Adapts to Exactly What You Do – Although the question is, what is it really adapting to? Most people think that they have to press the same weight, in the same way, or do something the same way, all the time, to get themselves better. Zachariah Salazar, mentioned something that I feel is important to share and that is simply thinking; “What easier? Is it easier to make a great skill better, or take a bunch of good skills and make them great?”

This might lead some to try variety, for sake of variety, but that’s not the point. He later followed with the idea to follow variations of what you are working on (to work a press, you must press, and do it’s variations) vs. working a squat to work on say a pushup, or playing tennis to work on a press.

This had led me to think of the different variations one can use.

1. Speed (Can I press the same weight fast, or really really slow)

2. Load (lighter and heavier loads throughout the workout)

3. Body Position (Can I do this in any position imaginable; Standing, Sitting, Lying Down, Squatting, Lunging,)

4. Environment I train in (Outside, Inside, New Area)

5. Objects I press (Dumbbells, Sandbags, Kettlebells)

6. The Way I press (Closer to my body, further from my body)

Development of Application of Skill toward Varieties

Am I able to take the general principles I learn from skill and movement and apply it to all varieties. Using Z-Health as a model, which you can check out here, the idea is can I apply the 4 Element of Efficiency and Rhythm to all movement.


1. Am I hitting the Target?

2. Can I keep a good posture and thus not trigger a reflex that may dampen my strength?

3. Am I friggen’ breathing? Whether shallowly or regularly depending on load?

4. Do I look constipated when I’m lifting something light or medium or am I too tense for what I’m trying to accomplish.

5. Can I move at the speed I want to move, or does the bell I demand I move at the speed it wants it? Meaning, if I want to work at a fast speed, can I move the weight fast?

An effort to Master Skill in All Degrees

An effort to master I believe goes further, because you are actively pursuing what you need to do better in with all the varieties and patterns the skill has. The idea here is deliberate practice vs. simply performing the skill. Basically do you intend to crush a specific goal for the sssion or are you simply aware that you need to press a bell. That’s it. The intention is another factor mentally that can be changd and should be an added variation that should be changed in the training.

For example: One of my intentions for the day was: I will press a 16kg bell from the rack position up 2-3 inches, hold the position, and maintain my body position and breathing 50x today with each arm.

Mastery of Skill and it’s subtleties

Not only can I apply skill towards varieties, but do I have awareness of my body and each joint can thus in any part of the skill change what may be needed to do better. Meaning, if something occurs that may be unexpected, do I have the ability to change what may be needed to continue on without hitting my head or stubbing a toe?

An effort to Master is learning to break the skill into it’s other component parts, similar to creating the many different varieties, but involving the skill itself. Meaning what makes up a press? Well your feet, legs, body, and the position they are in at each stage.

Can I move my pressing arm side to side with the bell held slightly above the rack and maintain the 4 elements of efficiency or am I shaking like crazy when the bell isn’t in it’s “normal” groove?

With this Mastery, comes the real idea of taming the weight, wherever, whenever, and however it may go.

*I do want to add and for you to please remember that this is not a linear process, rather a circular one. Meaning you may have mastered one stage of a press, but are simply developing it another.

Think of Skill development like a giant puzzle piece.

1.You can either work on the puzzle by solving the puzzle as a whole.

2. By breaking it down into pieces, working section by section, and then putting it together from there.

3. By breaking it down into pieces, working section by section, and finding what is not there.

Yours in Strength,

Darryl Lardizabal

P.S. Add Biofeedback Training, found here, and you’ll be amazed at how much faster you progress using this and biofeedback training to your advantage.


Here’s some further resources that you may find helpful:

Four Stages of Competence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence

Reflective Practice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice

Skill development: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/tech.htm

Athletes who Throw Things should Alternate between heavy and light: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni3a4.htm

These are the Skill you have to Develop in your Athletes: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni7a5.htm

The Three Phases of Skill Development: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni23a6.htm


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

2 Responses to “Want to be Better?”

RSS Feed for Moving Forward, Effortlessly Comments RSS Feed

Very intelligent post! Can’t say I digested everything, but I did get a lot out of it.
I think you mention a crucial point– whether you are hell-bent on acquiring a skill or performing a feat makes a whole lot of difference to the results.
I personally have experienced that, and continue to do so every day. I think another thing that accounts for success is the continual attitude of being a student of the skill, rather than a master.

Yes, like I said circular vs. linear is always the way to go. Figuring out how to always make it better – is different than continually having to add weight and that’s one thing I think most people don’t realize. You don’t need to constantly be practicing at the “weight” in order to make an effect, similar to practicing 16kg BUPs, but it improved your 24kg KB Press.

Anything in particular you didn’t get? Please help me rephrase the article to make it easier to understand.

Where's The Comment Form?

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: