I often say, "knowledge is worthless without action" and after writing my post on instincts I realized I great way to explain it. This is the follow up article to this article (http://betterride.net/?p=1837 ) on instincts if you haven't read it.
There are a million riders out there eager to help their fellow riders but few are qualified. I will use a couple of common tips that are good, correct tips as examples.
One tip you hear a lot is "look ahead" which is correct and vital to riding well. While there is nothing wrong with this advice it does a rider little good. Knowing something and actually doing it are too different things entirely! So knowing to look ahead is unlikely to help as that knowledge is in your smart, thinking brain while action comes from your "reptilian brain" which doesn't think but simply acts according to instinct. Ever drive home home and not remember any of the drive? That is because you are not using your thinking, conscious brain. You didn't think, "put on my blinker, slow down, stop, look both ways and turn right on 18th street", you just did it! Skills need to be the same way!
Fear (and don't mean terror, just not wanting to crash or slide out) causes your survival instincts to kick in. Did millions of years of being hunter and gatherers and then farmers teach the correct survival instincts for mountain biking?
If you have ever watched the best athletes in the world practice this is what they do. Day after day, even when they have mastered a skill they continue to do drills because if they stop the old instincts will take over. All top athletes spend more time doing drills than actually playing/doing their sport. I don't expect you to do that but what percentage of your riding time to you spend doing structured drills designed to help you master a specific skill?
The entire BetterRide skills progression is based on explaining a skill, demonstrating the skill and then having you master the skill with carefully designed drills. This is the only way to learn to actually do something. Ask any top ski racer, tennis player, football, martial artist, boxer, wrestler, MMA fighter or basketball player and they will tell you the same. Michael Jordan needed more drills than all his high school peers as he was a lousy basketball player his freshman and sophomore years. Jerry Rice set and holds nearly all receiving records in the NFL yet he was not close to being the fastest receiver in the sport. Jerry Rice's training and practice is legendary, he would practice running patterns by himself after practice ended. He was determined to make all the movements, skills and patterns instinctual.