Inspired by Teaching from the Balance Point by Ed Kreitman.
Whether your child is a young beginner or a veteran player, we always want to make sure that they form and maintain only the best habits while playing. However, this is much more easily said than done. Without proper care, your child’s playing could be adversely affected for years to come, so let’s make sure it’s right from the start!
The first thing to remember about habits is that wrong ones and right ones are formed with the same ease. After all, a habit is merely something we’re used to doing. A beginner who forms the right habits will have a much easier time progressing and learning, but even those with habits that need adjusting can change them with time.
Kreitman likens habits to a thick, braided rope. Trying to change a habit by brute force would be like trying to sever this rope, and would seem like quite a daunting task. However, if you look at this rope very carefully, you’ll begin to see that it’s woven from tiny fibers. Each fiber is wound together with others to form strings, and those strings are then woven together to form the thick rope. If we first unwind the main rope into strings, and then unwind the strings into fibers, the rope becomes much easier to cut through or break!
Similarly, Kreitman says, we cannot change a wrong habit overnight. In order to change a habit, we must make hundreds of tiny adjustments. Each revision is like breaking a fiber from one of the strings that make up our rope. This cannot be done overnight! It requires persistence, dedication, and patience. Although it is difficult, when we put this work in, a beautiful thing begins to happen. Not only is the old habit unravelled, but we weave a new, strong piece of rope with the correct habit to replace it.
What does this mean for us? Firstly, each time your child learns a new technique, be sure that they have thoroughly mastered each detail. If they know all the aspects of the new idea, they are more likely to keep the right habit as they progress. For habits that need changing, remember the rope! Rather than trying to hack through the old habit by changing every part of it at once, focus on small adjustments and bits of progress. Be sure to celebrate every small change your child makes! It may feel slow, but your child’s progress will be happier and more comprehensive.