Legend of the fig: I love cheese, especially when it comes in plateaux!
Oh, French, the language of love! You’ve probably already heard and sighed hearing some French speaker say ‘amour’, ‘coeur’, ‘trésor’ or ‘fromage’ (OK, that last one has nothing to do with love, but I bet you sighed too when you heard it pronounced by a French speaker)… But see, there’s this other French word you may have also heard, and that one is what this post is about. Let’s talk about ‘plateaux’!
Some months ago, I realized that I was getting stuck in my skating skills and started experiencing what people call a ‘plateau'. You know, you can kind-of do stuff, but you can’t seem to improve any further. At the same time you realize that there is SO much more to learn, that you get overwhelmed and start trying to work on everything at the same time, what means that you aren’t really improving in anything. Well, now visualize myself in all that. Great, right? In fact, it was very frustrating, since I really wanted to expand my skills. After several weeks of disappointment with myself and with my slow improvement, I decided to change my approach… which turned out to be the right thing to do.
So, what was the magic trick? Well, there’s no magic trick, really, it all turned out to be a matter of goals, planning, and organization…
First, I asked for advice —talk to the wise! I went to the coaches and asked them what they thought I should work on, what I needed to work on. I was ready for criticism, and I asked for it, and I tried to embrace it. This helped me reduce my infinite 'to do' list to a couple of more attainable and precise goals.
Second, I watched my team mates' styles, and decided to use them as models. On the same line, I watched derby, and found skaters that I wanted to emulate. This let me clarify in my head what I wanted my 'long term' goal(s) to be. I realize that I may never get there, but I decided that it's good to have those goals as they inspire me, push me forward, and make me realize that I like this derby-thing.
Third, based on the coaches feedback and my long-term goals, I tried to make a short- (ish) list of precise things I needed to start working on if I wanted to reach my short and long term goals. My list consisted of skills, not really "being awesome" or stuff like that.
Once I had that list ready, I chose some of the skills and started working on them. I tried to work on my own but also asked other skaters if they would help me and give me feedback, if I felt that’s what I needed. For the skills, I started slow until I would get the form right and then increase speed andforce. Luckily for me, it turned out that at the same time that all this was happening in my derby life, we started having free-skate practices, what let me concentrate on what I wanted to practice. If we hadn’t had that extra available time, I would have started to go somewhere else just to work on my goals.
It turns out that once I started applying those simple actions, my skating started to improve... a lot. Not that I became incredible or anything, but I felt pretty quickly that I was becoming a far better skater than I was when all this plateau-thing started. Looking backwards, I think that getting out of the "I want to learn everything at the same time"-attitude was key. It let me organize the skills I wanted to work on and made goals reachable, which was also rewarding when I got there and kept me motivated.
I don't know how other people go around their own development as skaters, but I feel that this really helped me, and so I decided to share my experience with others that may be stuck in the same situation I was some months ago (and maybe I will reread this in some months, when I get stuck again :P).
PS: I originally wrote this several months ago, but guess what? I’m back visiting the French language… Plateau, get ready, I’m coming for you!