It’s very simple in thought, if you cannot perform the basics, an attempt at the advanced stages is practically unfathomable. However, it seems to be common thought that the more difficult a given task appears, the better it should be in performance training. Or, the basics are reviewed, but adequate time is not spent so that it becomes properly solidified. It is not enough to perform a movement of high-quality with intention. Coaches or trainers want to add difficulty so that they seem innovative or more advanced in their coaching skills, when in fact, the best coaches are those that can teach the basics appropriately.
But first, we must define the basics so that this post does not lead astray. What are the basics?
Unfortunately, like almost everything in the life of sports, it depends. It is the job of the coach to determine what is an absolute necessity for the success of the sport. Completing a 360-degree dunk is not necessarily a basic function of basketball as compared to a simple dribble. The athlete cannot think about any kind of scoring if they are unable to move with the ball. Progression of skill only moves forward once the most basic elements are executed in a consistent manner.
To master an element in a consistent manner, there must be what we call, “intention with attention.” An athlete will not progress to any level of quality if they choose to simply go through motions while at practice. But, the athlete that displays an high degree of awareness and makes clear-cut intentions in the small things, will then see quality of movement improvement and a better acquisition of skills.
This all sounds simple and easy, but it is an unfortunate fact that the basics are often overlooked. A large reason is that we live in a society that is very outcome driven. Results want to be reached quickly, and in the process, we speed through the journey so to reap the rewards sooner. What use is a road-trip from L.A. to New York if you fail to take pictures and experience everything in between.
Very rarely, in sports, are results reached in such a manner. Disaster is inevitable. And even so, an outcome may be reached, but the reward, which is often the journey taken, is frequently overlooked. Very prevalent in weight-loss routines, individuals will take a fast route and use supplements that quote will shed the pounds in days. Pounds may be shed, but the weight is never kept off. The body is then ruined through disastrous chemicals and more health problems may arise in the future.
The process/journey should be half the fun in sports because it is in the journey where passion and even connection develop. Mastering the basics, or doing the small things, is not tedious and unfulfilling. Completing the small things is what will fill in the cracks of the solid foundation we hope to build as well-rounded and reliable athletes.