TESTING, TESTING RSTP Theory – Snowboarding, PART 1 – Getting acquainted with the Equipment

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One of the main tenants of RSTP thinking is to break down the skill set into micro, itty-bitty, bite-sized building blocks that can grasped easily by the newbie. They must be single action steps, repeated enough times to move the novice along the spectrum from UNconscious INcompetence, where the blissfully ignorant student isn’t even aware that they don’t know anything about the given skill set, ultimately over to UNconscious COMPETENCE, that magical state where they don’t have to think about the skill set action in any conscious way – they perform it without attending to it, they can even perform it while thinking or doing other things – it’s automatic, it now resides either in their habits and/or their muscle memory (see “Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious competence spectrum“).

Often, with skill instruction, seemingly trivial micro-skills, skills that are largely overlooked by the expert, are left to the student to wrestle with and simultaneously incorporate into a larger learning sequence, leaving the student overwhelmed, struggling, and ineffective in their learning. This also often leads the student to the conclusion that there is something wrong with them and their abilities, rather than that there’s something wrong with the instruction (see “There’s Something Wrong with Me” and “The Problem with the Idea that Talent is Innate”)

So, first things first – I tackled mastering skill segments that most instructors wouldn’t have bothered introducing, much less pushing the student for mastery before pressing forward. But, tackle and master them I did. I spent approximately 40 minutes, in my living room, mastering first one sub-skill and then next, in sequence. Like a military recruit assembling and disassembling his rifle over and over, I mastered the following:

1) putting my boots on and lacing them up properly

2) setting up and closing down the boot bindings

3) putting my forward foot in the bindings and tightening down the ratchets

4) putting my back foot in the bindings and tightening down the ratchets

5) rolling over from front to back and back to front with my feet in the boots attached to the bindings

6) getting up off the floor with my feet in the boots attached to the bindings, using The Frog approach

For the expert, these actions seem obvious. For the novice, they’re awkward and inefficient until practiced to mastery, to unconscious competence, where attention is no longer required to perform. This becomes the strong base on which next steps can be built. Attention is no longer necessary for these actions – it is freed up to concentrate on each subsequent micro-skill. The student doesn’t have to flounder with putting on bindings AND not sliding on real snow – one element is nailed down leaving the attention free for the next item.

Tomorrow we tackle several of those next building blocks out on the real slopes – well, the bunny slope anyway!!  (see “Testing, Testing RSTP Theory – Snowboarding, PART 2a” )

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