So you want to learn something new or just get better at something?
At first there is the “I want to learn how to do this cool thing I saw on Youtube, or in the gym,” so you read everything you can on the subject and ask a million questions. You soon figure out you need to narrow down your questions, and focus in on the one thing you want to learn more about.
And then you need someone to show you how to do it. Not just once, and not just one way, but over and over again, until finally you understand the steps so you can start to practice on your own.
But how do you know you are doing it right? If you are like me, this is a problem, because you want and need feedback. The feedback can come from practicing the activity itself, but until you understand what it is supposed to feel like when done correctly, you will probably practice and make mistakes over and over again, getting a little bit closer to accuracy, but not really able to tell why and how it is all supposed to come together.
The best way to improve is to surround yourself with people who know how to do what you want to learn how to do. If you want to get better at running, run with people who are just slightly faster and more skilled at running. If you want to learn how to perform an olympic lift, you need to be able to watch people doing it correctly; and it really helps if they are like you-only better.
It is difficult to be in a space with people from all walks of life of various ages and abilities, each working on a unique set of skills with unique strengths and weaknesses, and be able to watch and learn from them. It is difficult to find examples of middle aged women runners who are lifting weights to improve strength and conditioning for running on Youtube and Instagram. I just want to be able to wacth someone like me-only better. I just want someone to look up to. I want to be able to say, “I want to do THAT.” I want someone like me-only better- to give me just a bit of advice now and then, and know what I am going through.
When I played in the Women’s Golf League I loved to play with the older women who had been playing for years; I learned so much from watching how they approached each shot, their stance over the ball, how they lined up their puts. It was so very different from when I played with my husband and his friends. I tried to compete with them and I couldn’t. They were too far out of my league. I needed to work within my zone of proximal development- a just right environment for learning. For children, this means learning in collaboration with peers. For adults, this means an environement conducive to constructing their own meaning and solving their own problems (learning).
Sure you can learn by watching 20 year old college students and olympic athletes, but unless you can visualize yourself doing what they are doing, there is just too much disparity in age and, or skill.
I just want to learn how to refine and improve my game-whatever my game might be. It’s a journey. If it were a long distance race, I would not be running with the pack. I am running my own race, waiting to see who shows up to run with me.