After I transferred from Stanford to Northwestern, I became a Business major. One of the courses that I took was a course on Industrial engineering, which thank god had nothing to do with engineering. But the object was to make us understand the nature of our industrial society (that was then, now not so much industry).
One of the early geniuses of the studies of time and motion was a man named Frank Gilbreth. Ironically, people don’t associate him with this skill as much as know him as the father portrayed by Clifton Webb in the 1950 classic “Cheaper by the Dozen”. When the movie was remade recently it was with Steve Martin and he was a football coach and there you go.
Anyway, Gilbreth would go into factories who were primarily creating “widgets” on a redundant basis and break down all the movements that workers were utilizing in order to create a formula for that portion of the manufacturing. He noted how often they had to go to a certain area to get parts instead of going at one time to gather all parts and place them in the order they were going to be used. Also, how were the left and right hands being applied to the tasks. He defined each movement which he called “therbligs” (Gilbreth almost spelled backwards) and came up with certain rules: the hands are best used for tasks that require equal and opposite motions (for instance, put a pen in each hand, and you will find that within a very short time you can write your name forwards and backwards at the same time; a cute parlor trick). Also, many of the tasks being completed by just the right hand can use the left.
Factories found that employee efficiency skyrocketed (at no extra pay!) and production increased.
This has plagued me for all of my life. When I have to do any task, I try to figure how I can incorporate the left hand as efficiently as possible. When I go into the refrigerator I try to remember what things I will require for the whole meal and get them at the same time, and on and on.
Well, this has been pretty uninteresting, so where are we going?
For the 50th anniversary of Roller Derby in 1985, Ken and Gloria and Judi and I hosted a party in Chicago for the Roller Derby Has-Beens: skaters going all the way back to the original game. We had food and drink and rented a skating rink. The highlight of the evening was when all the past Roller Derby greats put on rental skates, went out onto the rink, and skated and then automatically fell into a pace. They were moving quite swiftly and each skater was a cog in the line: Bill Bogash with his efficient 5 stride, Charlie Saunders, Mary Youpelle, Mary Lou Palermo, Sam Skobel and dozens more. Most had not skated in at least 20 years but they stayed in it for 20, 30 and more minutes without a wasted skating motion. I see that over and over again in my brain.
So what’s the point? Many of you have learned the secret of efficiency in your skating. When and if I criticize, it is only because I can see those who have grasped it and those who haven’t. For this game to ultimately succeed on the highest level, you all must get the best training and of course it all depends on the effort you put into it. The more effort you put into developing as a player, the more effortless the game becomes. This has nothing to do with my love for the modern game; I assume you all know by now how I feel about it.
Now go out and train and see if you can identify the therbligs and how to perfect them. In other words, break down your skill components, work with a great trainer if possible, and you will find how much better and more fun the game is. You will not get hurt as often and have to pay the price later in life; and for god’s sake, get over these false badges of honor of terrible bruises and broken bones. The better skater you are and as are your teammates, the less injuries there will be.
The idea is to have great games and reduce injuries…….that is what the proper therbligs will help accomplish.