When developing a new habit (like working on your form) you are often times trying to change habits that have been ingrained in your shooting motion for 5, 10, or 15 years.
Many players get frustrated when they are shown a new (correct) way to tweak their shooting mechanics, yet they can’t do it exactly how the coach recommended…at first.
One thing that can help is to understand how habits are formed – and in this case, how shooting mechanics are formed.
When we execute a skill without having to think about it…let’s call that a habit. If you’ve been shooting for 15 years your mechanics are ingrained in your muscle memory. In your brain, you are executing this skill from your basil ganglia…which is sometimes called the habit center. You have strengthened the neural connections in your brain by practicing that specific skill over and over.
The problem arises when you try to change something about your shooting mechanics. Now you are fighting your brain. Your brain wants to operate in the most efficient way…so as you prepare to shoot, it wants to fire up the old neural connections and shoot the way you always have.
But you are trying to develop a new and improved shooting form.
So you are asking your brain to operate in a different way. The neural connections that fire when you attempt your new shooting form are not strong enough for you to simply execute the skill without thinking about it. When attempting a new skill, you are operating from your “working memory”, which is limited in capacity and not nearly as efficient as the basal ganglia (habit center). The beginning stages of acquiring a skill are filled with lots of frustration if we are impatient and don't understand the process.
As you practice a new skill, know that it will take time. Simply understanding that each time you deliberately practice your new shooting form you are slowly strengthening new neural connections. With lots of repetition and focus on 1 micro-skill at a time, you will begin to feel the difference. And once you push one mirco-skill from the working memory to the habit center (via lots of deliberate repetition)…then it’s on to the next.
Trust in the process and it will help you stay committed to your development and resist unrealistic expectations.
Studies suggest that habits can be formed in a bunch of different time frames…21 days, 50 days, 66 days, and some even longer. The duration is inconclusive. But one thing is certain...the process. If you dedicate a small amount of daily repetition on your form over a few weeks or months (just make sure it's spaced repetition), you will see major improvement in your shooting form.
So trust the process. Enjoy the process. Embrace the process.
And know that there isn't an end goal that will make you satisfied or complacent. Goals are just milestones. Growth is the ultimate goal.
So how can you trust the process more? Write down one thing that you want to develop. Now challenge yourself this whole week to trust and enjoy the process.