“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
There is always room and opportunity for improvement. Whether it is regarding your skills on the paintball field or in everyday life in general, one should always seek to better oneself. That can be achieved in many different ways but for this particular post, we will try to identify a quick process.
I have a saying that I share often at practice and in my clinics. That is, “We should always pursue that .1% percent gain.” No, that is not a typo, there is a decimal in front of the 1 meaning a tenth of a percent. You may be asking yourself, “Why so little?” and, I would certainly agree, that is a valid question. Here is my answer: any gain, any improvement, no matter how small or what may be perceived as insignificant, denotes an increase… an improvement. We should never go to practice or go to a clinic and leave feeling as if we haven’t learned or accomplished something. If you do, you need to reassess either yourself or the practice/clinic regimen.
So how do we ensure an increase at practice? Let’s break that down and see if we can’t develop that process mentioned in the opening paragraph. You can approach this from an individual perspective or a team perspective. Don’t limit it.
Improving any performance, whether it is your run and gun, your snap shot, what have you, we have to develop a baseline. So first things first, we need to understand and communicate the expectation. We must manage the expectation from the onset. Let’s use snap shooting as an example…
I make my crew do what we call a quadrant drill (video coming soon). Place them in a bunker (doesn’t matter but an Aztec is usually the best for this particular drill, again don’t limit, use different bunkers). Place a target at a predetermined distance from the bunker. The player must snap 3 quick times from four locations in the bunker: High right, Low right, high left, and low left. All 3 shots from each position must find the target for a total of 12 hits. One miss… just one… equates to a having to start over. You must run this until you can do it.
Now, what did we just establish with the above scenario? We established an expectation and what a successful run (result) should look like. Notice how we didn’t talk about technique or speed etc. those are additional expectations, yes? We should establish that. But it all really depends on your team’s personnel and abilities.
Next we need to recognize where our problems are. Again, we can do this from an individual perspective or a team perspective. Let’s use the snap drill as an example again. Perhaps the player who is struggling with the drill doesn’t have the proper set up, it doesn’t fit him, he isn’t using proper alignment, or leaning wrong, or he has an eye dominance issue, or he/she is going to fast or too slow. Once we recognize the issue, we then can address it, work on it and improve it.
Which leads us to the next step in the process, one that is absolutely necessary. We need to provide the opportunity to get better. We have to create an environment that allows for people’s improvement. In other words, as we have discussed several times in previous blog posts, set goals for each practice and set aside time to drill or what have you to address the issues at hand. Once again, using the snap drill, we should set time to do this at every practice until the crew is accomplishing the goal.
Once you have identified your issues, developed ways to address them, and established a timeframe in which to do this, you now have to implement it. In others words, as Nike would say, just do it. Let the process work. If you have done your homework, and the team has been honest with itself, you should see gains.
I believe I read somewhere that a particular car manufacturer (Toyota perhaps? Makes sense as this approach is very Japanese. In other words, efficient) believed that the best way to keep things positive and moving in the right direction was to never create a problem in the first place. They were basically saying, do it right from the get go. That can translate into PB by putting in the work before an event… maybe before ever deciding to compete. They believe that it begins with the process, not the personnel.
A man by the name of Edwards Deming once said that, “Workers are responsible for 15 percent of the problems; the system, for the other 85 percent. The system is the responsibility of management.” Again, what is being said here is that the “system” or process is the key. The workers (players) are only as good as the process allows them. Make sense?
So I was right, I just looked it up. It was Toyota. They have a “process improvement methodology” (kaizen). You and I would call it quality control. They believe in improving quality through the process approach. Guess how they do this? They look to change the culture in order to achieve continuous improvement. Remember how we talked about paintball as a culture and what needs to happen in that team environment (Place link to previous blog here)? Anyway, I won’t harp on this too much but they essentially break it down into 3 steps. 1) Focus on the goal 2) everyone works towards goal 3) everyone strives to innovate.
I think PB teams, programs, and coaches, etc. can all learn a lot from the business world when it comes to effective improvement and innovation.
Here’s what it all boils down to people… you have to plan. You have to have a plan. You have to have a plan for improvement. And you have to have a plan for improvement by developing a good process that covers the bases. Identify, make note/document, study the data, develop a plan, implement said plan, rinse and repeat.
Once you have accomplished your goal, then it is time to identify a new issue and apply your process again. Simple. Now go do it.
“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.” – Oscar De La Hoya
Be water my friends,