Does it have to be measurable? Some say you can't improve something that you can't measure. How do we address this with equestrian technical attributes like balance, footwork, rhythm, etc?
This is where the goal itself becomes the yard stick. For example, for rhythm, if you have poles evenly spaced on a circle, maintaining the same number of strides between the poles and the same time taken between each pole means you are achieving the same, even rhythm for the entire circle. You can then increase the number of reps to sustain this for longer.
In this example, rhythm is what you're working on, and the evenly spaced poles on the circle are how you are working on it, but the key to deliberate practice is the WHY - why you are working on rhythm in the first place? Why is rhythm important?
If you don’t know why rhythm is important, if you don’t really believe that it is important, what will motivate you to work on it at all? This is why it is critical to connect with a coach who can nurture the why in you. A coach who can explain their philosophy so that each schooling session feels truly purposeful and you can practice and drill with intention.
With the why clear, your coach can then make a clear and systematic plan with you. The plan will address the how. And then, armed with why + how, you will have clear, focused, and purposeful training sessions. Your practice will be deliberate. This is your what – clarity and intention.
Whether that intention be improved rhythm or footwork or accuracy or straightness. The list of technical skills goes on in our sport but deliberate practice takes those skills and turns them into desirable goals – because you know the why. Start with the why and the rest will feel real and worthy.
To hear more about why the why matters in coaching and in training, watch Gear and Sam's coaching show all about deliberate practice.