Breaking Bad Habits - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-20-2005, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Breaking Bad Habits

Questions in the THCI cover the how-tos, demos and faults, but does not touch on correcting established Bad Habits of the intermediate and advance caster. During my formal music educator training day in the late sixties, a strong emphasizes was placed on establishing good habits and how to correct bad habits. The crux of the matter is: it takes 21 days/sessions to correct a bad habit but only seven days/sessions to establish a good one. Looking forwards to hanging up my shingle in the near future as a FFF THCI Instructor (hopefully pass the test in a few Weeks or Months), I have been considering how to approach the Bad Habit thing. I have used successfully in music teaching: Identify problem, Isolated problem, Establish exercise to develop good habit, repeat slowly the correct habit and then place newly learned habit into the overall scheme of things. My question to you is: (1), how do you approach correcting established Bad Habits in your teaching? (2), A fault can be the result of a well-established bad habit that needs to be corrected. How do you go about stopping the bad and introduce the good habit?

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 05:34 AM
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My.02 !

I agree wholeheartedly with you about taking 3 times longer to correct a bad habit, than to establish a good one in the first place.
What works for me, and has done so in other disciplines, is to stage-break your routine.
By this I mean, break your entire routine into sections.
Identify in which section the bad habit lies.
As you go through your routine, you have only to concentrate on the one section where the demon habit lives, and substitute in the good habit.
It`s important not to let your "tweaking" interfere with the things that you are doing correctly.
Maybe it`s just me, but if I try to correct something without first making the stages/sections, I find my concentration lapsing, and the whole rhythm suffers.
"Tweaking something", is just that !
It doesn`t mean anything is broken, it just needs tightened !
Best of luck with the test.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Peter, love your signature. I remember one in the same vane: "The more I practice, the lucker I get". Your point of not messing-up the "good things" that are happening is a great point. Reaffirm the good and isotale the bad, then tweak. Probably one of the strongest cases for taking lessons from a qualified instructor is the instructor's ability to set good habits. Your point of stage-break is perfect. I teach newbies the casting motion in reverse. I start with the stop and work backwards through the casting motion. So the stage-break makes great sense to me. Thanks for your input and I will use your info in formulating my teaching style as this spey trek continues. It is fun and addictive, Klem

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-21-2005, 01:27 PM
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I`m a great supporter of instruction, preferably from the start.
I have found having the keen, and constructively critical eye, of an instructor invaluable.
It takes a very analytical person to identify a "minor" fault, (perhaps just one stage), and rarely can a person self-ascess as well as the trained observer.
When I started speycasting, it was under expert instruction, and everything was captured on video.
This was a great help, as it was easier not only to identify, but also to observe my faults.
Also, being a total beginner then, I had the benefit of getting taught the good habits first. (If that makes sense).
I still find that breaking the stages down (by use of video) an excellent tool, as little (and sometimes bigger) bad habits creep in from time to time.
Maybe it`s easier for me to understand it a little better when I can see it.
It`s a lot easier to fix something, when you can understand what`s broken.
I`m a great believer in "keep it simple".
It sure is fun, and addictive !

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 12:25 AM
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Good casting is all about muscle memory and bad habits are nothing more than incorrect muscle memory that you need to retrain. You are right that you need to first identify the incorrect element that causes the bad habit.

I taught beginning and advanced single handed casting for around 15 or more years and I always thought one of the best methods of teaching is to give referece points for casting such as for the back cast stop with the casting hand opposite the ear and the thumb pointing straight up. If you tell someone what the hand needs to do the rod and line will follow. With this technique you can really practice this motion at any time even without a rod and by repeated motion train the muscles to perform the same motion every time. I am always walking around the office and home performing a casting stroke - lately with two hands!!

If you understand the incorrect motion and can tell the student the correct motion he can begin this motion first in slow motion and over time correct the fault.

Certainly more difficult to break a habit than start right the first time.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2005, 02:37 PM
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Bad Habits.

One of the problems, as I see it, is there are many who aren't sure what their "bad habits may be. Many are content to go fishing, and as long as they can get the fly somewhere out in the middle of the river, all is well. They are the ones that either don't care about technique or don't see any value in practice. They've never taken the time to analyze their casting stroke and are therefore unable to tell what's wrong.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2005, 03:58 PM
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I think one of the most important aspects of the teaching / learning relationship is for the teacher to take the time and energy to get into the student's head. Its relatively easy to diagnose a problem and "tell" a student what they need to fix it. Yet often when a diagnosed problem doesn't go away, its not because the student didn't hear your advice, but instead they were unable to relate to it in a way they can translate to action. The words "can you explain that again" are not synonymous with "can you repeat yourself." The best teachers are flexible, and will try different approaches to identify those magic words and advice that work for each individual.

Think of the various ways we explain "power snap" for example. Lots of ways, they're all valid, and a good teacher should be familiar with this diversity to find the one that clicks with each student.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-25-2005, 09:52 PM
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Smile Bad Habits.

When I teach, a good portion of my lesson focuses on the student being able to identify faults (bad habits) before they become too well formed. Although Spey Casting is new to me, I've been teaching the single hand for mor than 10 years. Most of what any of us learn comes from self-discovery, the times when we are alone during a practice session. I devote some time on the practice routine, that each session have specific goals and that the hurdle in front should be overcome before the next (one step at a time).
There are many things one can look for while at practice; anchor position, too much line stick, wide gaping, "tank track" tye loops, poor tracking of the rod tip and so on. If one is alert to the problems before they bocome ingrained into the casting stroke. a good portion re-learning muscle memory can be eliminated.
Thanks for your input.

PS: Hope to see you at the next NSSC meeting.....
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-27-2005, 12:35 PM
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Hey guys-

I'm a mediocre spey caster at best, or maybe just a talented beginner. My teaching has been almost solely in one-handed casting, but I have done a lot of that.

More important than anything, though, is the fact that I taught myself to cast all the way to a high level. I have never had a lesson. As a result, I went a hell of a long ways down some wrong turns along the way.

When I need to restructure my cast, as I have done several times, I follow the method advocated by one of the other posters, breaking the cast down and rebuilding from ground up. To identify the flaw, I will literally just backcast for a one hour session, or just try to keep my tip in the vertical plane, etc. I consult casting diagram books, which don't exist yet for spey, but something along the lines of "Troubleshooting the Cast" should surely be along shortly. I also videotape myself and I think this is a spectacular teaching tool for instructors.

Once identified, I follow the 'deliberate practice' routine. There is actually a field of psychology devoted to this, mostly for athletes, but also for musicians and other performers, like politicians. The gist of it is, rather than simply repeating over and over again a new skill, hoping to gain muscle memory, the subject mentally and actively envisions what the 1) body, 2) rod, 3) line, and 4) process is doing at each step of the way.

It takes a while to make breakthroughs whether in learning a new skill or in revamping an old one, but when you do make a breakthrough, the improvement is sudden. I went from an average 80 foot cast with a 9' 8 weight to an average 100' cast in about 2 sessions once I hit the break point. Since that time my progress has been slower as I am nearing my physical peak (only 5'11" 165 lbs.), but I have added 10-15' to that figure using the same methods.

For casting, I try to visualize how the rod should move in a 3-dimensional sense, almost as if it were on a computer. I watch the rod closely and identify where it isn't behaving as it should. Video is stellar for this. If the rod isn't giving enough feedback, I pay attention to the line. Is the nose pointed? Point low = early application of power, downward airfoil, bad cast. Point high = late application, upward airfoil, elevating cast. Although I don't really cast tailing loops any more, I can still detect the elements of the tail if the loop unrolls more in a 'circle' than like a tank track. This is instructive, I am overstressing the tip at the finish point.

According to those psychologists, the mental act of active participation and analysis of the activity is just as important as the repetition. Using that method, I suspect you will see significantly better than 3 to 1 results.


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-29-2005, 02:19 AM
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Sometimes when all seems lost I teach a new skill as a back way in to fixing a bad habit. For example, teaching a new cast, or teaching off shoulder or left handed casting. Often a caster will "dump their loop" by dropping their rod tip on the D loop formation rather then raising it. If the are single spey and doule spey only folks, teach them to snake roll, paying particular attention to the raising of the rod tip after the rolling motions. Because the snake is a completely new set of movements different from the single spey and double spey, the student doesn't have the muscle memory in place and everything can become new again. I find in these situations it is easier to "correct the problem" (teach it as part of the new cast) and then show them how to apply it to what they already know.

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