So, as a coach, once you have a serious archer, you explain to them about working on improvements “one at a time.” There seem to be some misconceptions about what this is so I will do my best to explain.
In the beginning I thought this meant that I could only work on one issue at a time to the exclusion of anything else. Uh, no. This means “of the things you are working on, just work on one at a time.” Basically, you don’t try to fix two problems simultaneously . . . but you can try to fix two problems consecutively. In fact, I recommend that archers limit themselves to three issues to work on, just because it is hard to practice on more.
So, in practice, one works on A for a time, then works on B, leaving A behind for the moment, then works upon C for a time, leaving A and B behind for the time.
Then, one works on a thing . . . until . . . until what? It is a mistake to seek perfection, but what level of improvement is “enough?” The answer to this question, that is the standard for such adjustments to form and execution is: you stop trying to improve some shot element when the quality of that element matches the quality of the other elements in your shot. The goal is to have all aspects of one’s shot at the same level of quality. To keep grinding away on something to make it better than the rest of your shot does not improve your shot. (Imagine having a world-class stance but mediocre other form elements; does that stance make for better scores?) Leaving something when it is still quite substandard always makes your shot weak (the “weakest link in a chain” argument goes here). Of course, some level of judgment has to be applied in these situations because there are few standards that I know of that can be used to make such decisions.
The few standards I know are of the ilk of, say, with regard to archery fitness, we want our first and last shots to be the same. If you are dead tired at the end of a shoot, you need to keep working on your fitness. If your level of stillness degrades as you progress through a competition—you get shakier, or feel a let down is an unnecessary burden, etc.—you need to build your archery strength (to hold you bow up and keep it steady, for example).
I have written recently about how I recommend such efforts be tracked/organized (“The List”) so I won’t repeat that here.
Just like trying to tune two aspects of your bow-arrow setup simultaneously leaves you not know which changes had an effect, working on two form changes at the same time, can do likewise. But working on one and then working on another is standard practice. Think of this being like working on strengthening muscle groups. Work is done on, say, one’s core, then the next day, work is done on one’s back, then. . . . Even in the same practice session, you can work on more than one thing, as long as they are different (using different muscles).
Note Just for Coaches Sometimes you can perceive that a student is getting bored with a set of drills designed to improve some form element. It is perfectly okay to declare that that work is “enough for now” and shift focus onto something else. Days or weeks later, you can come back to working on that element again, but I recommend you try different drills so the work seems fresh. One can cycle through one’s shot sequence many, many times improving each step as one goes. Having a store of such drills is why Mike Gerard and I wrote “The Archery Drill Book.”