SKILLS

PERFORM has three parts: Skills, Performance and the Pianopalooza Journey .    Developing skills for learning and teaching is the meat and potatoes for training the elite performer.  Sections on skill development include:

                     •  My First Lesson                                            Slow Down

                     •  A Parable                                                    Pounded Movements

                     •  The Half – Full Glass                                      The Alexander Technique

                     •  Practice and Priorities                                  Creative Practice

                     •  Photcognition                                              Pedagogy

                     •  Audiocognition                                             Down the  Hall

                     •  Horowitz                                                     Cesar Millan

                     •  Flat Fingers and Trenches                              Performance Tests

                     •  Grace                                                          Second Opinions

                     •  Tensed Relaxation                                         S.T.A.R.

                     •  Bridges and Arcs                                           Positive Practice

                     •  Towel Drill                                                   Achilles Heel Traits

                     •  “Kids these days”

 

Below are some excerpts from Skills.

 

                               Tensed Relaxation

 


There is a balance between being too tight and too relaxed with all forms of physical performance.  Some skilled quarterbacks can throw the short dump pass with firm control while others either float the ball or drill it to the receiver.  We typically refer to the skilled quarterback as having “touch”

 

As a boy, I remember going to see Cincinnati Reds [should be] Hall of Famer Pete Rose at an autograph event.  I remember him talking about the importance of a stiff grip on the bat so that you could strike the ball hard.  Charlie Hustle, as he was known, was my childhood hero and his pictures covered my bedroom walls.  From that moment on, I gripped the bat firmly with a strong grip.  It wasn’t death grip; but, it certainly wasn’t a loose or medium strength grip.  I later discovered that I was successful when my grip was strong but my body was relaxed.

 

Similarly, some skilled musicians are able to play softly (pianissimo) while the entire large audience hears the music clearly. Unfortunately, other musicians are unable to play soft music in a large setting.   Albert refers to this technique as playing Loud – Soft.  If a musician can play soft tones that carry over the hushed roar of an audience, he is able to “project.” [pro•ject  not  proj•ekt]  

 

Playing the piano requires a solid grip on the keys with the fingertips.  As Albert explained to me, the fingers are flexed and rigid and the power is generated through the shoulders and arms as the hands pivot to center the force.  The weight of the arms should feel as though they have “follow through” beyond the fingertips on the keys.  The typical piano “grip,” in Albert’s opinion, has a similar feeling to carrying a light suitcase; the work is done with the arms and upper body, while the fingers keep tension on the handle. 

 

In football, the best hits are made when a player hits through an opponent.  Football coaches like to say:


“Hit through, not to.”

“Aim beyond the target.”


Usually when a football player tries to hit his opponent really hard, he is rarely successful.  Trying to deliver the “crushing” blow typically limits the player’s force because he becomes overly tense throughout his entire body.  From observing martial arts, championship power lifting and professional football, I have learned that:
 
More power comes from relaxed muscles than clenched teeth

Ultimately, all elite physical performance requires both firm, controlled tension and muscular acceleration with follow through.  Anyone who has played sports has heard his coach address the importance of a good grip, follow through and relaxation.  I suggest that all physical movements are maximized when there is firm tension at the contact spots and muscular relaxation throughout the remainder of the body.   Both tension and relaxation are required simultaneously!  In order to generate explosive movements, tensed - relaxation is required.



                                                 “Tension is who you think you should be. 

                                                        Relaxation is who you really are.”

                                                                      Chinese proverb



 

 ***
 

                                            S.T.A.R.

 

Benjamin Leibowitz PhD is a psychologist who has spent his life studying, among other topics, coaching styles.  Ben has analyzed the styles of hundreds of successful coaches including Mike Ditka, Marv Levy, Bobby Bowden, Kurt Ferentz, Nick Saban, Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler, Don James and Tom Osborne.  [He’s also studied famous coaches from sports other than football]  After much research he formulated four predominant coaching styles:  
            

                                                          S. earcher

                                                          T. echnician

                                                          A. nalyzer

                                                          R. elater


All coaches, certainly have traits of each style, but the traits of each predominant style which Ben has identified are:

 

        Searcher              * imaginative, creative

                                  *they value innovation

                                  *they work most effectively in a flexible  environment

                                  *Bill Walsh would be an example of the Searcher Style.

 

        Technician           *pragmatic, results, stats, technique and execution

                                  *they value effort

                                  *they work most effectively in an organized environment

                                  *Vince Lombardi would be an example of the Technician Style.

 

         Analyzer              *complex, objective

                                  *they value ideas

                                  *they work most effectively in a scientific environment

                                  *Bill Belichek would be an example of the Analyzer Style.

 

         Relater                 *personal motivation, loyalty, team work

                                    *they value friendship and personal relationships

                                     *They work most effectively in a positive environment

                                     *Tony Dungy would be an example of the Analyzer Style

 

I met Ben close to 20 years ago in New York and was fascinated with his work.  With his research, not only does Ben identify the styles, he proposes how to work with these coaches most effectively.  You’ll have to research his writings for that information.  Furthermore, you can contact Ben and take an assessment of your own coaching style www.coachpsych.net.


After thinking about Ben’s work, I’ve concluded that there is no mold for the “ideal coach.”   This was a significant revelation to me.   I used to think the perfect line coach was a cut from the Technician Style, but I never felt comfortable playing that role.  After taking the assessment I realized that I drifted more towards the Analyzer Style.  After noting several successful coaches with a similar profile to mine, I developed confidence that my style could work.


The “perfect” coach doesn’t need to be tougher, or smarter, or get along better with his team, or run more imaginative plays, or work more on technique, or become more/less organized etc.  I believe that it’s most important for a coach to be himself and to know his strengths and weaknesses so well that he can make it work.  


“You” just need to be the best “you.”

 

 



                             “God has given you one face and you make yourself another.”

                                                            William Shakespeare 



 
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