How Should I Build Precision?
April 13, 2021
If you've read much of this diary so far, then you know this about me:
- I need to understand what's going on as I try to improve.
- When I focus on my mechanics, I seem to lose something related to trusting my shot.
I presume I'm not the first athlete to deal with this dilemma. How should I continue to try to improve in a way that doesn't cause me to run back into the familiar and comforting arms of futzing around endlessly with my mechanics? I presume that being aware of the dilemma already protects me (a bit) from it. I have more self-awareness, I can notice sooner when I've fallen into the familiar trap, and I can remember to show compassion for myself by saying "Yeah. That's how it always is." Is that enough? Will that protect me enough from going back to practising my mechanics and improving my precision?
I guess we're about to find out.
This past week's league play didn't go very well. It seems to combine some old patterns with hints of progress.
- Scores: 237-200-251=688.
- Middle hit rate: ~70%
- Head pins: 4, so I can't blame the scores on them.
I had a very good strike rate, but I threw imprecise shots and as a result I got a bit unlucky, twice putting an open frame in the middle of what could have been a string of strikes. This is one thing that has kept me below 240 the past several years. If I could swap even only one open frame for a strike, my triple would have been closer to 740. Not great, mind you, but significantly less disappointing.
I have already done some work to improve my strike rate and the results threaten to stay with me, but now I need to hit my target more consistently so that I can throw less XX-XXX- and more XX/XXX/ or even XXXXXX/.
My league average this year is sitting a fraction under 230 (9650/42) and we have 15 games left in the season. If I averaged 260 for the remaining 15 games, that would raise my average to 237, and leave me having averaged 258 for the last 24 games. At the risk of messing up my mind, I'll set a goal of getting to 13550 for the season in 57 games. Let's see how close I can get!
I don't need to do it, but I want to do it.
I intend to try some precision-oriented practice:
- Aim for a smaller target during practice, while remaining relaxed during league play.
- Use Mark 10 during practice for both precision shooting and as an example of spaced repetition/interleaving tasks.
I will pay very close attention to falling back into long mental checklists about my body position and mechanics. Instead, I will focus on a smaller target and practise trusting my body to figure out how to make the ball go there. I hope this helps me find a helpful compromise between what I think I need and what I know seems to help.
Based on what you know about me so far and your own experiences, how do you think I should approach improving my precision? What do you think I'm missing? Am I making any obvious mistakes?