Using repetition for improvement

West Coast Swing Online Faster Learning

If you’re reading this blog, you care about practicing well. You want your practice time to pay off. What can you do to develop your skills quickly?

When I started ballroom lessons, my teacher introduced me to an exercise called waltz running steps. Essentially, I was doing waltz steps around the room. As he introduced this exercise, he told me a story about a top professional that had won eight hours of coaching with one of the best smooth instructors in the world. He flew to Europe for the coaching sessions to work on his waltz, and the instructor had him do nothing but waltz running steps, for eight hours. The same drill that was being introduced to me—a brand new ballroom dancer—had so much value that a high-level professional could spend eight hours doing nothing but that drill and improve substantially.

The moral of the story is that even simple exercises contain plenty of material to learn. In fact, lots of the depth of simple drills (like doing rolling triples or side passes) emerges as you continue to focus on those exercises.

We’ve talked about deliberate practice before. Now, you should think about how you can be more deliberate about noticing the details of your “simple” drills. When you step on your triples, do you land closer to one side of the foot than the other? What is your hip doing when you step? Your rib cage? Are you creating a contra-body angle with your shoulders?

Keep repeating your drill, and see how many details you can pick up. How many skills can you find in your drill? And how many more will you discover if you keep repeating that drill?

Most of the time, the problem isn’t that we don’t have the right drill. The problem is that we’re not willing to let the drill we have teach us everything it has to offer. You can fix this. See how much you can learn from repeating your drill.

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