Getting In The Zone: Learning New Skills On The Fast Track


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Doc Ali’s Tight Mind Monday 6-12-17: New Skills On the Fast Track

Summer is a great time to push yourself to learn new skills and maybe even move up to the next level. What if I told you there was a mental drill that could help you get those skills just a little bit faster? Well, there is and it’s spelled T.R.E.E.  

It comes from the premise that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined skills. So when you walk through skills outside of the gym you create muscle memory because your body codes it as if you were really doing the skill!

Before I explain four branches of our T.R.E.E., the key to this drill is walking through each new skill and really FEEL as if you are doing it. So every time you walk through the skill really put yourself in the moment. Feel the new skill as if you were actually performing it. Use all your senses to put yourself there.

Let me give you some Tight Mind Tips on how to work the four branches of T.R.E.E.

T stands for Technique:
What are the most important shapes and technical positions on this new skill? What cues words have your coaches used when teaching it to you? Come up with  key words for each technical essential. Then walk though the skill three times just focusing on technique.  

R stands for Rhythm:
Every skill has it’s own rhythm. What is the rhythm that makes the skill flow for you? Not rushed and not too slow. Think of the rhythm and either sing or clap the beats. Then, walk though three of the skill you are learning focusing on both technique and rhythm.

E stands for Energy:
What is the energy you take to the skill? Do you approach it with a calm confidence? Or do you need more of an “eye of the tiger” approach? Practice breathing in the energy that will allow you to perform the new skill perfectly.  Then, walk through the skill three times focusing on all three of the branches, technique, rhythm, and embodying the energy you need.  

E stands for Enthusiasm:
The root meaning of enthusiasm is “divinely inspired.” This “E” helps you embrace your passion for achieving this new skill, push through fear, and remember why you want to learn it. Is it to move up a level? Or just feel a sense of accomplishment? Walk through the skill three times focusing on technique, rhythm, energy, and remembering why you want to do it.  

Walk through all your new skills feeling the four branches on the TREE: technique, rhythm, energy, enthusiasm. Really feel each branch. If you do these numbers outside of the gym, you’ll find your skills come that much faster this summer.  

Alison Arnold Ph.D. has been a mental toughness consultant to USA Gymnastics since 1997. For more information of Doc Ali and her on-line bootcamps, click here.