Proficiency-oriented MTB practice might have some advantages
Research indicates its superiority over time and repetition-based practice
I've been neglecting my MTB practicing the past two months — and justifiably so, IMHO. My wife and I enjoyed a month-long camping trip in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which took a couple of weeks to prepare for and recover from. However, I did manage to do some mountain biking when we spent a week in Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. See my Instagram post for ten MTB-related photos, and ride details on my Strava profile.
I mostly read novels on this vacation, but I also squeezed in some MTB practice-related reading and listening whenever we were able to get a connection. An article/podcast episode by Bulletproof Musician Noa Kageyama got me thinking (but not yet practicing):
He cites a 2012 research study in the American Journal of Surgery that involved medical students learning a surgical knot-tying procedure to determine which type of practice was best: time-based, repetition-based, or proficiency-based.
To put those three types of practice into MTB examples:
Time: “I’m going to practice track stands for 10 minutes in my driveway every afternoon before dinner.”
Repetition: "I’m going to make 15 bunny hop attempts, take a break for ten minutes, and then do 15 more.”
Proficiency: “I’m going to practice going over that big boulder using the 3/4 pedal stroke technique until I can get the rear wheel to land on the top edge on three consecutive repetitions while avoiding my upright problem.”
The research showed significant advantages for the medical students using the proficiency-based practice method: “successfully a) complete the procedure within 3 minutes, b) place the stitch within 1mm of the marked target, and c) tie a secure knot – on two consecutive repetitions.”
Having to focus on specific improvements and aiming for clearer goals does tend to lend itself more naturally to thoughtful, focused, deliberate practice.
I also think this research indicates why gamification is an effective MTB practice strategy (link to my August 14 post). It’s proficiency-based.
I’ll report back on my experiments with proficiency-based practice, hopefully before winter arrives.
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MTB Practice Lab’s first AMA (Ask Me Anything) is almost history. Ten of you submitted questions that have generated over 40 comments to date. And three of you responded to questions posed by your fellow riders, which is pretty cool.
However, I'm keeping the discussion open for new submissions and replies to existing comments for another week (until the end of the day on October 23). I will respond to them whenever I can.
I like the format because it gives me time to craft my answers. I spent Sunday afternoon drafting replies to questions submitted since Thursday. I posted all my answers shortly before the 7 PM start time. I then spent the next hour or so responding to follow-up replies.
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