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  • AutorenbildHenni Jesch

“If you want the ribbon, you have to work harder”

Thanks, Cindy Ishoy. Canadian dressage rider and trainer

I might be not really sure about it…. But I think that sport works the way, that you practice a movement very often to perform it in perfection in the end. That means to practice one movement very, very often to gain the strength, the condition, the coordination and flexibility to be able to do it right in a competition. Besides, nature should have been so kind to give you the necessary skill of moving – called “talent”. Talent is the limited fact that is only moderately manipulable. You can´t even buy it. Many parents already thought about that a lot. But practicing is useful anyway. The world is full of exceptional talents, who are lazy and cowardly or just forgot to practice.

If you don’t practice a movement, because you just don´t want to at the moment – it could be that you are not capable of doing it, if you want to do it at any other time?

Some might say: I do not have to practice so much, I have talent! Well…does this mean that a Marcel Hirscher, a Isabell Werth, a Cristiano Ronaldo do not have enough talent to do it without practicing every single day for many hours? Are they just too stupid to do it without training?

I already hear the argument: “But I never wanted to be THAT good!” About that I can ease all your fears: It won´t happen!

And that would really be very uncomfortable, if you just want to hang around, doing nothing and suddenly you turn out to be world class – just for what? I think, that we don´t have to care about the problem to be a superb athlete without ever wanting it. If we look at that from a mathematical point of view: is there a proportional relation between practice and success? If I practice just one eighth as much as Cristiano does – do I get just one eighth of his competence? I´m afraid there is no relation like that. Maybe it is the other way round, a disproportional relation? If you practice 8 times as much – you might get one eighth of the competence? Not even that… There is maybe no equation for practice and sportive success – you should just give your best at any time – any sometimes even more.

If you practice the movements, that will be judged in your competition – no matter in which way- it might be possible, that you are able to perform the movement in the competition. If you never do – you wont´t be able to do it in a competition as well. You might see that by the marks you get for it, or the time, the height or width you achieve, or the less mistakes you make, or even the more you take the ball somewhere where the rules say it should be - call it a goal.

If you never ever try to get the damn ball into a soccer goal – you might not be able to do it in a game. But no one would care because you would never ever get somewhere into a soccer team. If you never ever practice to go with skies through a slalom course – you will not make it upright through the course in a competition. In the downhill race it doesn´t matter because you would be dead if the legs can´t hold the pressure. Works out by itself on the Streif.

And with riding? If the professional rider sits on your horse and practices all the necessary movements a thousand times – while the owner or rider watches from the public stand or just gets the videos on his mobile while sitting on the couch? So the professional rider practices the movements again and again – he was capable of doing it before! He or she does it a thousand times every day! That´s why they are good at doing it! They have the strength, the condition, the coordinative skills, the precision in giving the rider´s aids – because they do it every day for hours! This is proved by the higher marks they get in a competition!

But how is the one on the bench in the arena or the one on the couch at home able to do the same movement in the same quality and strength as the one who does it a thousand times every day? If the actual athlete does not perform the movement because the professional trainer does it – how will this work out? Could the student – who does not sit on a horse every day – perform the movement, so the horse understands it and is able to perform it? I can´t cope with this logic!

Marcel doesn´t send his trainer with his skies to the slalom slope, to make the skis perform better the next day! Cristiano doesn´t send his assistant to make spectacular goals with his football – so the football finds his way in the next game. For sure – it does not!

It might be useful sometimes, that someone who has the competence teaches new things to a horse. If the actual rider keeps on practicing the movements with other horses or just keeps doing anything at all!

So, Marcel won´t watch from the couch of his living room while his skies race down a slope in Schladming. Presumably it might be necessary to sedate Isabell to make her watch someone else practicing a Grand Prix with her horses. And in case of Cristiano you would need some kind of anesthetization gun, which is normally used to catch runaway cheetahs, to keep him away from the ball.

Yes, I know… you don’t want to be that good. The problem, that you might be too good one day – won´t come up.

So why does this work out with riding? Another one doing your movements? Is the horse definitely less sensible than a ball? Maybe not… I think the horse recognizes very quickly that the one up there is not well trained and it is for sure not the professional rider. Because this one up there does not have the condition, the skill of moving, the routine and no useful experience. So, just hope that the horse is empathic and takes over if the rider can´t … and sometimes it really happens … for some time…

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