Humans (this one in particular) are creatures of habit. We find a system that works and we stick to it. It’s kinda our deal. If you find a way of working that allows you to make progress, then obviously keep on keeping on. The tricky part is when things change slowly. You may not notice that something isn’t working at first. Maybe it is you; you are feeling “off” that day or just not trying hard enough. Now this may be true, but you know what else may be true? It just may be time to mix it up.
I’m sure we have all been told that old adage, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (This is nothing close to the actual definition of insanity). If you keep trying and trying to make something work and it just isn’t moving forward, well maybe it is time to try something new. So many elements in German Wheel are size dependent; both the size of the student and the size of the wheel. Even though Judy Long-Arms can do a trick with her hands at the handle, Tiny-Thumb Timmy should try moving them. Does that feel better or worse?
One of my students has to do a variation of a trick because she uses an extra small wheel. Now we have been working together for quite a while trying to maximize the height of a trick. My advice has been “keep your knees close to the ground”. However upon arrival in Chicago, we received a wonderful and opposite piece of advice. Suddenly things are feeling much better. Now it is all well and good to discover this now, but think of the anguish that could have been avoided had I been more willing to experiment with variations earlier. So even if you know something, mix it up! As long as you are practicing safely the worst that could happen is you will learn that that did not in fact help.
Not only should you mix up the technical mechanics of your elements, but also your training habits. I have been getting quite comfy in my position as coach, and not Gymnast. Coming to Chicago has been an awesome opportunity for me to let go of that and remember the joys of being the one who listens. It’s hard to admit, but recently my training has felt boring and lackluster. I had been working on the same few tricks by myself for more than a couple years and not really making any progress. Working with a coach who could show me some new stuff got my wheel fires burning again, and it feels great. It is exciting to be able to challenge myself and start working on “new” again. You see, I didn’t realize how I felt until I did something different. I thought I was fine, but I was starving. Often we can only really know where we are by going somewhere else and looking back. Distance, perspective; there is something wise here. I’ll let you look for it yourself. Keep on rolling, wheelers.