Training, repetition and reinforcement are known as the three R’s of training. Repetition involves repeating skills, exercises and drills. Reinforcement means repeating your training and drills in different ways. Retention is the end result of repetition and reinforcement.
We are what we repeatedly do. By repeating the same skills, exercises and drills over and over again; reading about them, seeing them and hearing about them multiple times - will increase your understanding and retention. Look at the world's top athletes: they practice their routines, their workouts, their skills a million times over in training, especially before big competitions. For those of us with children, we know that the desire for repetition is innate in all of us from a very early age – children love to repeat the same games and the same stories – the word “again” is something parents are very familiar with.
What are you reinforcing? As a racing driver you are reinforcing your B Game - your Method underpinned by your Skills - and the more you can vary your training and apply stress to your skills the broader and more robust your skill base will become, this in turn makes it much more difficult for the winds of pressure and change to blow it over.
When we learn a new skill our brain creates new neural pathways (high speed connections in our brain) and repetition reinforces these pathways until a skill is said to be learnt. The more we repeat a skill and the more we vary and apply pressure to a skill the deeper these neural pathways become – this is why tennis players who may have hit millions of balls during their careers still undertake hours of training every single day.
The challenge associated with Repetition:
The above only works if you pay attention to the repetition, the danger is that if a driver’s goal is not very clear or inspiring, after a while they can think, “I have already done this, heard this, seen this” and they can start to tune out , get bored and start to think about something else.... something more enjoyable. To prevent this from happening you need to:
1. Set clear goals - Behind which you can build your desire to improve and succeed.
2. Be disciplined – Discipline is a habit - remember the best drivers and sportspeople don’t need motivation.
3. Set mini-goals in everything you do – This allows you to track improvement and know when stagnation is starting to set in.
4. Constantly vary your training – This keeps things fresh but also broadens your skill base.
5. Be clear what you are training – Prioratise what skills you need to work on – beware of only training the skills you enjoy.
6. Find a training partner – This can help keep you motivated.
7. Quantity and quality – Quantity of training is important but it is essential that it is always quality.
The reality for professional athletes and drivers is that most of the time you have to grind out your training – and this is where winners and losers separate themselves. If training was always pleasurable athletes would continue to train at high intensity from the day they retire to the day they die.
“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” – Zig Ziglar