02.Nov.2015 Mastering Skills
There is a common thought that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I suggest reading that article, because while it is “zen” and that might be off-putting, the ideas are interesting in how they relate to the rebuild at OSU.
I’d like to give a personal example, too.
When I was 15 I began playing guitar. I had some success putting out recordings and getting on college radio, gigging, etc. I was having some success and without a whole lot of effort, so I thought I was good. A couple decades later, you’d think I would be a “master” at the instrument (I have good coordination and all the traits required to be good), but I wasn’t. I had peaked. I had to be honest with myself and admit I was just so-so. The question then becomes why? Well, after examining it slowly and thoroughly and (most importantly) honestly, it’s because of my haphazard practice habits. Sometimes I would go months at a time without practicing thinking “I’m pretty good already without the practice”. Lately I have been upset about how sloppy my playing has become, so I’ve revisited books and researched more into technique, and realized I was doing some basics wrong all along and/or had gotten into bad habits. I’ve spent about 2 weeks fixing those fundamentals, and sure enough, the playing has cleaned up considerably. But, this all made me think about the players and rebuilding at OSU. In a sense, they are also breaking old, bad habits and relearning new. And I can tell you, it does take time — doing things slowly and correctly and repetition. Practice makes permanent, not perfect, so if you’re practicing wrong you will perform wrong. It is simple muscle memory. And it is hard to undo.
What will limit OSU’s rebuild is the players’ individual max ceilings. Not all are equal. But what GA and staff are trying to do (at least my guess, based on “coaching” myself on guitar and teaching others the instrument) is max out the talent. If you can get an entire team to that point, then as a coach, you have done everything you can. Considering there are 85 schollies and 70 players travel to each game, you can see why it would be hard to get all those players’ talents maxed out at the same time, and then to have them all on the same page with regard to scheme, etc. It’s hard.
From the article above:
There’s only one way to become good at something:
1. First, you must learn it by reading or listening to others who know how to do it, but most especially by doing.
2. Then do some more. At this point, you’ll start to understand it, but you’ll suck. This stage could take months.
3. Do some more. After a couple of years, you’ll get good at it.
4. Do some more. If you learn from mistakes, and aren’t afraid to make mistakes in the first place, you’ll go from good to great.
It takes anywhere from 6-10 years to get great at something, depending on how often and how much you do it. Some estimate that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, but I think it varies from person to person and depends on the skill and other factors.
Let’s say it doesn’t take 10,000 hrs, but instead it takes the low end of 6 years. Still, the most a player will be in the program is 5 years. This is one explanation as to why college players are amateurs and most don’t turn pro.
Speaking of which, being an amateur, by definition, means you mess up. We fans expect these guys to make every catch, every throw, etc. But, they are amateurs, so that’s an unreasonable expectation. Going back to the guitar analogy, say you go to your local coffee shop on “open mic night” and there’s a guitarist up there flubbing notes. Do you care? Probably not. “Oh, makes sense he’s an amateur playing at a coffee shop” would be a reasonable thought. Now say you go see The Rolling Stones, and Keith Richards is flubbing notes. Do you care? Yes. He’s a pro. You paid to see him, you demand excellence. Now, it becomes grey area because some fans pay to see the Beavs by going to the events, and others buy cable packages to watch events, etc. At that point, people are paying to watch, so are the student athletes amateurs? Well yes, they are, but it just highlights the screwed up nature of college sports. It also skews fan expectations — once they pay, they expect more from the athlete.
Now, am I saying we forgive all the errors because these players are learning and are amateurs? Yes and no. What I am saying is it the fact is that it takes a while to master anything, so if these guys have only been running GAs style for 11 months, that is not enough time for most of them, and it’s why we see most of them struggling and making painfully slow progress. Maybe by the time they are seniors they are masters.
Someone will surely bring up Collins and say this is proof he can learn how to throw. Again, yes and no. If he puts in many hours/years, maybe he can overcome the physical. QB requires more than just the physical though (i.e. good decisions, leadership, etc). To learn all of that this late in the game and then master it is unrealistic. That would be like, continuing the guitar analogy, someone trying to master the instrument at age 40. It just won’t happen, and it’s why most people who are masters of their craft start at extremely young ages. Collins has 10 years of bad habits to undo before he can even begin mastering good habits. So, he will remain, imo, a sloppy player, work in progress, etc. I think this is where high 3 star talent and 4-5 star talent really has the advantage. They have much less work to put in to become masters.
Finally, a challenge: try to master a trade, craft, sport, etc. Any one you choose. Note how difficult it is. Hell, try to master blogging and outdo AB. 😉
That saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” makes a lot of sense when you think about it. If you’re spreading yourself thin over various subjects, it becomes impossible to log the requisite hours to master one. Andersen is demanding a lot from these student athletes in the classroom, social lives, and football. Then there is the time they spend on individual interests and hobbies. They are spread thin.
This isn’t an excuse for the poor play so far, but rather an understanding of it as I try to cleanup some of my own issues in my chosen trades and hobbies.