The Friction Rule states that easy things become impossible during a crisis. Forty plus years as a fire/medic I have had many occasions to work in a crisis. I have experienced the Friction Rule first hand. I have felt the frustration associated with not being able to complete the simplest of tasks when it was imperative for successful outcome.
When we fail it is usually due to human factor. Sometimes that factor comes from emotions breaking our concentration.
Sometimes it can be due to the stress of the situation. No matter what the cause, we do know that habit can overcome the Friction Rule. Habit only occurs through repetitiveness. Repetitiveness is brought about through training, hands on training. Training, if done properly, develops muscle memory.
In a crisis, when time is critical and the stress is high, muscle memory allows an individual to automatically perform the task in a highly effective manner.
People sometimes excuse the basics in training and jump right to the advanced skills, feeling it will make them perform at a higher level. But if you talk to any coach they will report the athletes that have perfected the basic skills are the most successful.
I like to participate in tactical shooting competition. I found early on the basics of shooting that I was taught many years ago have paid great dividends when applied to a tactical situation.
The basic skills I learned in fire/EMS during my original training still help to mitigate critical situations. It is the basic skills that should be practiced over and over to develop muscle memory and to break the Friction Rule. Training deficits will allow the Friction Rules to take hold during crisis.
Here are a few tips for developing muscle memory.
- Remember, if you practice a procedure inaccurately you become better at being bad.
- Muscle memory has more to do with brain function than muscle function. The brain develops mental imprints through repetition. These imprints make it easier to perform a skill without total concentration.
- Be patient with the process. It takes thousands of repetitions to develop the mental imprint.
- Focus your eyes on your hands each time you perform a task. In some cases you will train the brain to do the task without looking.
- Mental tasks can be developed just like physical tasks. Playing “What if” will help you develop quick decisions in a crisis.
Overcoming the Friction Rule will allow you to function at a very high level during crisis, but it takes time and training to develop.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.