Originally Posted by Ash_Smith
There's a theory in personal development circles that putting most energy into developing your strengths into "super-strengths" is a more effective pathway than improving your weakness' - providing none of your weakness' are "mission critical"
If you take Vygotski's theory of development, you do have a rationale for thinking that sufficiently similar skills can "improve all at once." The idea is that you have three types of skills: one set is acquired, one is to be learnt with support and one set is out of reach for the moment.
Each skill can be stimulated through certain tasks and, obviously, the task should bring the individual to use a skill that is in the learning zone (formally called the zone of proximal development). There, you can accomplish the given task, but only if you have resources: it can instructions, books, etc., but you need some help there. Improvement is seen when the first zone (of acquired skills) is enlarged and the second zone shifts.
We do have reasons to think that similar skills will follow one another. It might seem weird, but by practicing to attack junk balls that force me to bend and be really rigorous with my posture, I manage to also improve my rally ball. The skills are indeed sufficiently similar. An other way of seeing this is that I improve specific skills through adaptation and facing low balls is a good way to accommodate my skills. Of course, I can hit better shots off low balls by hitting rally strokes... however, I should, as Vygotski points out, always focus on what brings me to the limit.
Which is the point here. YOUR IMPROVEMENT IS BOUND BY YOUR HARDSHIP
: the harder it is without being impossible for you, the more you improve. The real key in development is not to target your strength or your weakness, but to identify your zone of proxmial development and PICK THE HARDEST POSSIBLE TASK YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WITH HELP
. If you go too far, you won't improve; if you go too short, you won't improve. You have to nail it just right. That's the idea: YOU HAVE TO BRING YOURSELF TO THE BRINK OF FAILURE
, where just a tad more is too much.
It's like weight training: you always pick the heaviest possible weight you can use for a given number of reps and the given movement you plan to accomplish. If you focus on endurance, you lower the weight and do more reps; if you focus on strength, you increase the weight and lower the reps... but you're always near to fail the last rep. Ideally, you'd need to a small finger push from a friend to finish the very last one. And, like lifting weights, when it becomes too light, you SHOULD increase the weight. In tennis, using an heavier dumbell is asking more of yourself: pick smaller targets, sharper angles, go from being stationary to moving or from slightly moving to scrambling... do what you wish to, but make it so it's hard all the time, despite your improvement.