Deja Vu

On March 4,1984, I "killed" six people and "wounded" three others (in law enforcement terminology that's a double hat trick—plus).

During the mayhem, I fired close to 50 rounds. That's kind of embarrassing considering I only hit nine people, but then again it was probably a godsend since all but one of my victims were innocent.

I did all my carnage on DxTer, a combination of video and computer technology that's used to train recruits of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Secret Service the way flight simulators are used to train pilots. What brought the incident to mind was an article I read by James Gorman In the June 1997 edition of Discovery magazine.

I got to use DxTer through a friend who works for the Secret Service. Learning that I was doing some research on model training, my friend decided to give me a face-to-face encounter with the real thing—DxTer. It was great fun and a super learning experience.

Although at this time no sports software programs can be used in conjunction with DxTer, model training does lend itself very well to athletics.

Model training is a technique derived from the psycho-physiological theory of homeostasis and Hans Selye's theory of adaptation stress.

During practice sessions an athlete will usually experience only a minimal amount of psychological stress. During competition of course this stress is magnified significantly.

Most athletes don't account for this competition stress in the practice environment. Competition itself is a learning process in which an athlete learns to perform under stressful conditions. Unfortunately for them, a lot of athletes have difficulty adjusting to the competitive arena and instead of identifying it with optimal performances; they associate competition with fear and failure.

Model training teaches an athlete to adapt to the competitive environment by adding into the practice sessions the variables that are present in competition. In other words, making practice as close to competition as possible. Essentially, model training involves adding a combination of social, psychological and technical stresses in the session to duplicate the competitive environment an athlete must face.

For example, let's take an Individual sport like gymnastics. Many gymnastics coaches will play crowd reactions over a loudspeaker during practice. Often they will interrupt practice, bringing in "strangers" to watch a gymnast's routine. By doing this, the coach is actually simulating the competitive environment and readying the gymnast for the pressures it offers.

This procedure can also be used in bodybuilding to enhance your posing routine. Invite as many spectators as possible to watch you perform your posing routine. Encourage spectator involvement—let them hoot and holler —just like the real thing. By implementing this type of dress rehearsal, you will not only decrease meet anxiety, but also enhance your competition presentation.

I'm sure you have heard about the use of model training in football. I believe that was the first team sport to use it. Football teams often practice the two-minute drill, and the practice squad is often asked to duplicate the playing mannerisms of the team they are about to face. Some coaches even go as far as to have the practice squad dress in the same uniforms and wear the same numbers as their counterparts, intent on stressing the positive effects garnered from this type of conditioning.

Research indicates that while training under conditions duplicating the competitive environment, athletes will learn to adapt to the competitive environment much faster. Consequently, they will improve their performance much faster in this environment. The expression "practice makes perfect" is rather naive. The quality of practice is much more important than the quantity of practice. If you do not deal with the stresses of competition while in practice, then these stresses can overwhelm you in competition. In essence, you can learn that competition is a fearful experience. Without model training, you have only one chance to perform as desired; If you're not prepared for the stresses of competition by way of model training, the stresses may be so great that your performance will be substandard. This can cause you to associate competition with unpleasantness, rather than viewing it as an arena for optimal performance.

When I was competing in power lifting, I would go to great lengths to incorporate model training in my practice sessions. For starters, I would arrange my practice environment so that it looked and felt as close to that of the actual meet as possible. The bench press setup, squat racks, even the chalk box, were all arranged to simulate the meet environment. I also tried to duplicate meet conditions during some of my practice sessions. For instance, I would go through the exact ritual—chalking, wrapping, psyching myself up, etc.— that I would use at the competition. I'd even use a time clock, judges' lights and cassette-taped crowd noise to duplicate meet conditions.

By duplicating the technical, psychological, social and situational stresses of competition before its actual occurrence, I was able to adapt to competition much better than my competitors. In fact, because of model training, I was always at ease during competition for the simple reason that I knew exactly what to expect. In essence, I had been there before. Like deja vu.


Yours in Strength

Dr. Judd







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