Reach for the Sweet Spot
Reach for the Sweet Spot
Reaching to practice in a zone just beyond your current abilities.
“The sweet spot: that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp. Deep practice is not simply about struggling; it's about seeking a particular struggle, which involves a cycle of distinct actions.”
There are three zones of reaction that we as humans live in. The Comfort zone, the Reach Zone and the Survival Zone. The Reach zone is where we need to find
The Reach Zone is to reach just beyond your comfort zone. This means to stretch yourself slightly beyond your current ability. The Reach zone is often referred to as the sweet spot. Deep and deliberate practice is not simply about struggling; it's about seeking a particular struggle, finding the edges of your ability and practicing just beyond that edge. Get outside your comfort zone and into the reach with clear goals. Have a plan about how to reach those goals, a way to monitor your progress, and maintain your motivation over time. The biggest gains in skills and strength come when you're constantly reaching just beyond your current ability. Your body and brain grow most quickly by being pushed just outside their comfort zone, but not by too much. The Survival Zone just beyond the Reach zone and all learning and skill development stop as it begins. Your brain and body react to protect themselves. In skiing terms you lockup, put your weight on your heels and go straight. This zone is where injuries happen. It’s a very delicate balance, and a balance that’s critical to maintain.
Ski racing is defined by time and speed. No one has ever won a race just because they were technically perfect alone. It is one of our sport greats hurdles. Our sport is judged by speed but to much speed places the brain in a defensive area where learning shuts down and natural defensive instincts take over. It is crucial that practices and training remove speed and time as the main measurement of skill acquisition. For example angulation, edge hold and clean initiations are harder to do the slower you go. Speed actually hides flaws in technique. Hermann Maier would train at race speeds less than 30 percent of the time. The rest of the time he spent on trying to do it slower. Find the flaw and fix it.
“A successful individual typically sets his next goal somewhat but not too much above his last achievement. In this way he steadily raises his level of aspiration”. (Kurt Lewin)
Comfort Zone: Sensations: Ease, effortlessness. You’re working, but not reaching or struggling. Percentage of Successful Attempts: 80 percent and above.
Reach Zone (Sweet Spot): This area is defined by difficulty, alertness to errors and some frustration. You’re fully engaged in an intense struggle—as if you’re stretching yourself to try something that is new and and as of yet unsuccessful, then reaching again for the next. THIS IS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
Survival Zone: Sensations: Confusion, desperation. You’re overmatched: scrambling, thrashing, and guessing. You guess right sometimes, but it’s mostly luck. Percentage of Successful Attempts: Below 50 percent.