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How to turn bails into breakthroughs: The wave of trick learning

So we all know that feeling of trying a trick, getting close, landing on it a few times and finally feeling like you’re going to roll away, and then… you lose it. The next few attempts you don’t even get close and you feel like you’ve lost it forever.

In this vid I’m going to go over why this process is actually a good thing, but also what you can do to make it happen less so you can speed up learning and land more tricks.

The almost-land x bail wave

Now this cycle of almost-lands and bails is something we all go through nearly every session. But there was one session I had about 1 year ago that stood out to me.

Hours had passed, deep in the cycle of almost-lands and bails. The frustration was building and I felt like I wasn’t progressing, I felt like I was wasting my time, and ultimately I just wanted to give up and go home.

I rolled up to try again and to my surprise I stomped it and almost rolled away.

That’s when something clicked in me that shifted how I felt about this whole process. I realised this blend of almost-lands and bails, ups and downs, is just the nature of skateboarding.

It’s so common when we’re going through a patch of losing the trick for a few tries to just focus on what’s going wrong, to feel like we’ve lost the trick, to get stressed, and put all our energy into what went wrong, and this is exactly what I’d do before this realisation.

The thing is, this isn’t only going to take you further away from doing the trick, but it’s also a fundamentally flawed way of thinking.

You see learning or filming a trick isn’t a constant linear progression where every single attempt is a tiny bit better than the last. Nah.  It’s more like a wave - almost lands mixed in with losing it, heavy slams, shinners, scooter kids, and maybe an angry raccoon blocking the run up.

So during this session, I started to relax into the wave of bails and lands. I stopped overthinking what went wrong before, and if I got angry, I tried to let it go before I tried again. 

Focus is the key to learning

This allowed me to focus more in general throughout the whole session and as a result quickly started figuring shit out related to how to do the trick.

You see going through the wave of almost makes and bails is actually helping your brain learn and figure out the trick. It’s the difference between doing it right and doing it wrong that gives you the essential information you need about how to do it.

But, it only gets that information if you’re focused on what you’re doing.

This is because, focus is the key to learning. So if you’re rolling up focusing on thoughts about how you’re losing it and about what might go wrong, you’re going to miss the info you need to figure it out, and well, you probably aren’t gunna make it.

On the other hand if you’re focusing on what you’re doing, you’ll let your brain receive the information it needs to do the trick - maybe you need to pop differently, turn your body different or avoid a crack in the ground.

Who knows what you need to learn or when you'll learn it, but by focusing on what you’re doing instead of what’s going wrong, you’ll massively increase the chances of getting it.

I’d been trying this trick for a couple of days already, but by accepting this reality and freeing up my mind to focus more on what I was doing I started to figure out the extra bits of info I needed to do it. And after a bunch more of these cycles, I ended up getting it.

Let go to get the trick

Now, how I think about filming or learning has changed. Instead of getting stuck focusing on one bail, I see the bigger picture that filming or learning is always going to be this wave of almost-lands and bails.

Of course, it’s shit to bail a lot, especially after getting close, and I’m not saying I’m never going to get stressed or frustrated, but now I realise that a patch of bails doesn't mean I'm losing the trick, I'm just on one part of the wave and each of those attempts is going to give me information I need. If, I’m focused on what I’m doing and not in my head.

So remember that you don’t learn a trick the moment you roll away, you learn it through the 100s of attempts that came before.

Now there’s only so much focus you can do in one day, and there are many other things that influence how you skate and your chances of getting a trick, so click the following links for full video/articles on how to maintain focus during your sessions and learn skate tricks faster.

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