You want to master something, just teach it

Why explaining to someone helps you learn it

To demonstrate that you know what you learned the best way is to explain it to someone else.

When you’re able to teach someone what you learned, it means that you master it.

While you are explaining it, you’re still improving because telling others about what you learned helps you doing it even better.

How my cousin helped me learn better tennis

I noticed this recently when I was playing tennis with my young 16 years old cousin who was new to the sport.

I had not played in about 15 years, and slowly I started to remember things.

In the second or third session, there were still many technical points that I was not doing very well.

I watched some videos and put them into practice. Next time I managed to improve on these points but not so much.

The following time, I explained to my cousin what I had newly learned since I thought he might also benefit from it.

The mere fact to explain it made it clearer to me, and my level on the point immediately improved drastically.

Why I learnt better tennis after explaining it to my cousin

Teaching and memory

By explaining what you learn, you have to make it clear for yourself. If you don’t understand, how can you explain it to someone else?

The opposite is that if you explain it to someone else and get stuck, it shows the limits of your understanding, and you can hence work more to understand it.

Teaching and visualization

The fact that you’re teaching makes you visualize the concept in a very clear way. Visualization is proven to be one of the top differentiators with top performers (athletes, business people…).

Visualizing the outcome before it happens makes it very clear to you and helps you implement it.

Visualization is particularly important in fast pace sports like boxing, or sprint, where every millisecond is critical and should you exactly know what you’re doing before you do it.

Teaching and accountability

The second aspect is the accountability. When you know that you need to learn because you’ll have to explain it, and you might be looking bad, it keeps you in check.

You HAVE to know what you’re explaining. This is a very good social proof concept to help you learn.

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