Sample RSTP Lesson_Stick Shift Driving

A friend of my mine, David, was asking me the other day what a lesson, built in RSTP-style, would look like.

Before I ever strapped a snowboard on my feet, I had worked out a bunch of theory, testing it on the skill set of stick shift driving.  I love watching the TV series, the Amazing Race, where teams of two race other teams around the world to win a $1M prize.  I marvel, seemingly every single season, as one team loses the incredible opportunity to hop all around the globe, because they cannot, for the $1M life-of-them, seem to figure out how to drive a standard transmission vehicle when that is business-as-usual for most of the globe!

For my purposes, it was a very accessible, concrete skill with which to work to work – the car was just sitting out in the driveway – I could work on this project whenever I had a bit of spare time. As a result, I have nearly completed a full rough draft of the transfer sequence languishing in a file on my laptop.

In theory, RSTP’ed lessons are built to be precise, explicit, focusing on just one micro-skill segment at a time. The purpose is for the student to embed each piece of the instruction into their unconscious competence before tackling the next segment (see “Consciousness Spectrum”). The segments are then sequenced to aggregate in a very methodically way in order aid the novice in efficiently and effectively acquiring the skill set (see diagram below).

Conscious Competence Bottleneck

The flow of micro-skills from the unconscious incompetence, through the bottleneck of the brain’s capacity to consciously attend to new material, into the relatively unlimited capacity of the brain for attending to the material of the unconscious competence.

And, here’s a little taster sample of what an RSTP’ed lesson looks like.  Click on the link below and it will open the Power Point “Stick Shift Driving Program,” complete with instructional videos – I apologize – it takes a few minutes to download – still working on my technological proficiency 😉

Stick Shift Driving

Be sure to go to the “Slide Show” menu in Power Point, and then click “From Beginning” to work through the instructional series.  Use your down arrow key on your keyboard to advance to the next slide.


When I crashed and burned last year, landing myself a shoulder AC separation, (see “Snowboarding Crash and Burn”), I had no idea just how close I was to having a basic grasp of snowboarding. 


I’m so thrilled, despite not having touched my snowboard for almost an entire year, that I pressed ahead this year and, by surprise, discovered that I was only a couple of lessons off of, actually, for-realizies, SNOWBOARDING!!!.  All the micro-skill building blocks I had been methodically building and hardwiring in, one-by-one, were then  systematically aggregated, culminating in this day, this moment, this snowboarding skill set!!  I feel like a BAD-A**!!!!  😉

Chalk one success up for the Rapid Skill Transfer Protocol!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!

For a little celebration, and a preview of what’s next to come, see “TESTING, TESTING – SNOWBOARDING THEORY, CELEBRATION and “What’s Next?

TESTING, TESTING – SNOWBOARDING THEORY, Part 10b – Carving – Distinctions

I’ve talked before about how critical/important distinctions are in the skill transfer process (see “Distinguishing Distinctions – A Definition”).  Up until now, the distinctions I’d been making had been of a more theoretical nature, an intellectual exercise.  I could envision how slight changes in movement could alter the outcome – simple physics.  But, today I EXPERIENCED, for myself, the difference in outcome by becoming aware of those tiny differences that make ALL the difference.  Today was the day I experienced distinctions, not as an intellectual exercise.  But I felt it, for myself, in my body!!

During my practice session, I warmed up with a few runs doing everything I had learned to date.  Then it was time to add carving down a fall line down the slope.  I carefully, methodically followed the sequence I had been shown in the video series I had been using to figure out the broad brush strokes for snowboarding:

  • Put pressure on the front toe, then pressure on the back toe, then roll your front knee in towards your back knee to finish out the turn to the right
  • Put pressure on the front heel, then pressure on the back heel, then roll your front knee out away from your back knee to finish out the turn to the left
  • Alternate between these two movements to carve an S-shape down the hill

I slowly strung the two parts together, back and forth when, suddenly, it hit me.  I realized that sliding and digging in the back toe then back heel, in a rocker-like motion, back and forth is what really facilitates the downhill carving motion. 

I’d made a distinction – in my muscles, in my body, as to what variable really made all the difference in performance.  And it was EXHILIRATING!!!  I LOOKED and FELT like a snowboarder!!!  

As a result of the distinctions made, the sequence became much more precise:

  • -Put pressure on front toe, put pressure on and slide the front toe backward and lean on back toe to dig in back toe; let your body lean forward slightly
  • Put pressure on front heel, put pressure on and slide back heel forward and lean on back heel to dig in back heel; let your body lean backward slightly
  • Alternate between these two movements to carve an S-shape down the hill

Now, all that was left to do to OWN this snowboarding skill set, to OWN this little piece of the mountain, was to hardwire it into my unconscious competence (see “TESTING, TESTING – SNOWBOARDING THEORY, Part 10c – Carving – Nailed It! ”)

TESTING, TESTING – RSTP THEORY, Snowboarding Part 10a – 384 days after my Epic Fail


Bunny slope, Version 2.0, riding the lift

I can still feel the twingy-ness in my left shoulder from the AC separation I suffered when I unexpectedly hit a wind-blown patch of ice last season and went down…. Hard! (see “Snowboarding Crash and Burn”) I had reflected on what had gone wrong, realized that Epic Failure is often necessary to make the key distinctions that play a critical role in ultimate success (see “Upside of Epic Failure”), and had cataloged the lessons learned in order to incorporate them into RSTP to make the theory and practice more robust going forward (see “Lessons from My Epic Failure”).

I had to face my fears of getting hurt again and not being able to finish up the glorious snow season bestowed on the Sierra Nevada’s by the benevolent and generous El Nino weather system.

It was time to get back on that snowboard again and ride!!

So, though today was in no way a major milestone, in terms of riding like a dudette, it was a major milestone against the demons in my head.  I faced the wicked bunny-slope, navigating it with tentative mastery.  And then the muscle memory kicked in, and with it, my confidence (see “Wrapping the Mylin Sheath/Muscle Memory”).  I was riding the carpet lift like an 8 year old, gliding 3 endless feet to a perfect stop!!  I was blowing out heel- and toe-side slides, falling leaf patterns and riding a 10% grade for 40 mind-blowing feet!!!  I even ventured two runs down the bunny slope, Version 2.0, before calling it a day!!

I was the master of my domain!!!!!

Now, all I had left to do, to complete my beginner’s course in snowboarding, was to learn how to carve – deep breath, but here goes….  (see “Carving – Distinctions”)

Lessons from My Epic Failure_Snowboarding

So, here’s what I learned from My Epic Snowboarding Failure…  (see “The Upside of Epic Failure”)

***First and foremost, my epic failure confirms the importance of the RSTP tenant, “Go-Slow-To-Go-Fast” – in my misguided impatience to jump too quickly ahead, I completely took myself out of the snowboarding skill acquisition game. In trying to advance too quickly, was completely stopped out –it’s pretty clear that, over the long run, if you’re sitting on the sidelines, it’s going to take considerably longer to acquire any level of skill competence!!  (see “Go-Slow-To-Go-Fast”)

***I realized that I had ignored, to the peril of my acromioclavicular shoulder joint, two key basic working theories of RSTP – if I had 1) broken the skill set down into smaller skills acquisition segments far enough, and 2) practiced those individual elements sufficiently to embed them deeply enough into my unconscious competence, then, outside of a freak, perfect storm-type accident, I shouldn’t have gotten hurt!!!!  RSTP should make accidents irrelevant!!   (see “Breaking it Down,” “Practice, Practice, PRACTICE” and “Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence Spectrum”)

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The Upside of Epic Failure_Snowboarding

I had been lost in a self-abusive mental loop all day, berating myself for my epic failure. I was questioning whether everything I had worked on for the past 4 years, in an effort to build a protocol that would allow for the rapid transfer of any skill set from a novice to an expert, quickly and easily, was completely off-base, worthless, garbage (see “Crash and Burn”).


Until the moment I had made a sudden and irreversible impact with windswept, hard packed ice, I had been so pleased with the rapid progress I was experiencing in learning to snowboard. I had picked it as a skill set I could easily use to test out RSTP theories. I had watched the students of the ski-school instructors getting beat up, day after day, over on the bunny slope. And I was thrilled beyond words to see my incremental “go-slow-to-go-fast” skill acquisition approach paying off – in contrast to those students, I had taken very few spills and was gaining skill and confidence quickly – I was excited to think that the theory appeared to be sound in practice.

As I lay in bed that night, with my newly minted shoulder AC separation, doing my very best to lay perfectly still, the critical voices in my head still rolling – I suddenly had a 4:00 am post crash-and-burn ah-ha moment…. Continue reading

Snowboarding Crash and Burn

Today was the day!  I had kicked the bunny slope’s tail. I had shown the shorter, more gradual slopes of Patsy’s who was boss. I was comfortably stepping and gliding, getting on and off the lift with ease, riding normal- and goofy-footed, stopping on a dime, flipping over and popping back up from less-and-less frequent falls.

So… today was the day I was going to level up!


It was time for the big mountain – David and I hopped on the Stagecoach lift, rode up over 1000’ in elevation through the biting cold. I slid easily off the lift, skated my way over to the bench and strapped in. We stood looking out over the raw black-blue waters of Lake Tahoe for a moment, Continue reading