I have received quite a few emails this week from court reporting students nationwide. The emails have ranged from trying to get through a speed class to trying to figure out where geographically in the USA there will be work in a year.
First things first, if you are stuck at a speed, it might be a good idea to shift strategy. If you have been practicing with fast speeds, always pushing, maybe it is time to slow down the tapes and practice accuracy and having perfect strokes. LEARN BRIEFS – ESPECIALLY PHRASES. You will save so much time. If you are trying to use a brief that you struggle with every time, KNOCK IT OFF. Choose a different brief or write the word out. Briefs should flow through your fingers and come naturally to you. If you have been listening to tapes that are at the speed you want to pass, get some super fast tapes and push, push, push. Tire your brain out. Spend at least an hour a day practicing with tapes.
If you always sit with your machine at a certain height, lower it or raise it an inch. If you typically sit straddling the machine, practice with the machine as a side saddle for a couple of hours. Then when you take the test, go back to what you are used to. Switch things up just for a little while during practice.
I understand that athletes force themselves to use different muscles other than what they might be used to using for their sport. For instance, you hear about football players taking ballet. They are taught to use a different muscle group and learn flexibility. Cross-training is in vogue as the best way to get in shape. Athletes are taught to “confuse their muscles” to build strength so the same muscles don’t get used to doing the same thing all of the time.
If you are stuck at a speed for a long, long time, I believe you need to change things up. Your mind and body will get lazy if they are allowed. Spending hours practicing, doing the same thing over and over, and not advancing is going to kill your spirit and seep into your concentration and speed.
I believe court reporters are very much like athletes. What we do is a sport. We are incredibly fast and accurate. When it comes time to perform, whether it is a test or out in the field with a fast witness and volatile attorneys, we pull it together, know it’s show time, and take off. Practice is where we can make mistakes, learn new techniques, and memorize briefs.
The next time you take a test, think to yourself, “It’s show time.” Sit up straight in your chair and get ready to razzle dazzle. Make up your mind that you are going to knock the test out of the park. If you don’t pass that test, look forward to the next show (test) where you get another chance to be great. Being a court reporter, interactive realtime court reporter, CART writer, or captioner, it is all about Show Time and being the best.