When my wife and I first moved in together I was doing laundry and folding towels to Putting them away.
I returned later that day to see her refolding all the towels. Apparently I had folded them “wrong“. I am not sure how they were wrong, they were folded, they were away, they were not hanging out of the cabinet. But she assured me, they were wrong. She then proceeded to show me the correct way to fold the towels.
(For the record, a triangle is not the accepted way. )
I am eager to please the women I love. I want to do this right. But I had to ask “WHY ?” was this wrong.
She told me that this is the way her mother taught her.
A year later I got up the nerve to ask her mother how to fold a towel. She showed me. I asked “WHY ?”. She said that was the way her mother had taught her.
As luck would have it, my grandmother-in-law was coming for dinner.
After dinner as we were sitting enjoying a glass of wine I asked her how to fold a towel. She showed me.
I asked “WHY?”
She told me that when she first got married they had a very small apartment in Austria and that she found that this way was the only way her towels fit in her cabinet. After a decade in that apartment it had just become habit. She then said, “There is no right or wrong way. As long as they fit.”
As coaches, how many things do we teach, not based on mechanics and technique but on a habit passed on by our coach and possibly their coach before them?
I do approximately 50 lectures a year in a variety of countries. Some at formal congresses, some in gymnastics clubs, and some informal discussions in the bar following competitions or clinics. I am used to professionals asking me “WHY?” Questioning technique or a drill or progression I’ve used. It is those questions that have made me a better coach. I have had to justify nearly everything I do, hundreds of times a year.
Your coaches may have been brilliant and correct with their drills. But they also could have come up with a drill or technique just to fit a situation.
Learn from everybody, questions others, question yourself.