You got a New Super Power or two? Great! Can you use them? While the standard hero seems to instinctively know their way around every possible ability they can obtain throughout the story, some people have to flail and struggle, with everybody laughing at them. Hey, there's all those Required Secondary Powers that you have to master that nobody tells you about!
Also applies when a character attempts to mimic or steal the abilities of a hero (like stealing their Empathic Weapon) and ultimately fails. When he is successful, the newly acquired power is too unpredictable or costly in his opinion to use in the long run, since he may lack the time or experience to perfect it. It's doubly humiliating if he's defeated by the hero anyway. This is sometimes An Aesop that a hero's strength is his character or ingenuity/skill, not his powers.
Nonetheless some are too stubborn to give them up, and may become a kind of Evil Counterpart.
One would expect this to be a natural co-trope for a Puberty Superpower, which makes it strange that this was rarely the case — most teen heroes seemed to know how their powers worked instinctively. When it does happen, the empowered teen is likely to enroll at a Superhero School or find a special Mentor (preferably with similar powers) rather than try to learn on their own.
The name comes from Something Awful's randomly renamed and incredibly nonsensical "FYAD" subforum, where it originated as a quotable quote from somebody playing the Half-Life mod Natural Selection and trying to figure out the alien faction's special abilities (shooting webs). In his frustration, he posted "how do i shot web" repeatedly. It got quickly transposed to Spider-Man because it's funnier when he says it. It has since spread wide across the Internet, as such things are wont to do.
Often follows up Powers in the First Episode. Sometimes followed by Power-Strain Blackout. Limb-Sensation Fascination can be a variant without superpowers. May be accompanied by Power Incontinence if they're that inept at controlling their powers. Does Not Know His Own Strength is the Super-Strength version of this trope. See also Inept Mage, when someone does understand how to use the powers, but lacks finesse, and New Ability Addiction, when someone, upon recently acquiring powers, will try to use them at every opportunity, usually clumsily. See also Testing Range Mishap if someone attempts to test out the new powers, only to end up failing, and Assimilation Backfire. See also Training the Gift of Magic, especially if there's an established system of teaching how to shot web. Compare with Stumbling in the New Form, which is about characters struggling to move properly after getting transformed — there can be overlap with this trope if a transformation comes with new powers or vice versa.
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- Western Animation
- BoBoiBoy: In episode 2, BoBoiBoy initially can't figure out how to use the lightning power he was given in the previous episode, going for a normal lightning bolt but making a lightning umbrella and a lightning broom instead.
- In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin tries to get his butt to light up like a firefly, and attributes his lack of success to "not even knowing what muscle to flex".
- In the Disney Fairies film The Pirate Fairy, Zarina douses Tinker Bell and her friends with rainbow-colored pixie dust, swapping their talents. They all have a little trouble controlling their new talents at first...except for Tinker Bell's foil Vidia, who is mortified to find that she instinctively thinks like a Tinker.
- The Incredibles: Even though Violet has had her powers of invisibility and force field creation her whole life, she's very inexperienced and anxious when it comes to using her powers throughout the majority of the film. This comes to a violent head when she is unable to summon a sufficiently large enough force field to shield the plane she is in from Syndrome's heat-seeking missiles and nearly dies in an explosion along with Elastigirl and Dash. After a pep talk from her mother about it, she is seen practicing intently on the campfire.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: As the Equestria Girls gain magical abilities, they're unsure of how to use them at first. This leads to several instances of them hurting themselves (and almost each other), like Dash's Super-Speed causing her to run face-first into a wall, or Rarity's gem barriers pushing Applejack into the lake. Sunset helps them out with a song called "Embrace the Magic", where the girls get their powers under control.
- My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): The Storm King wants to steal and use the power of the alicorn princesses for himself with his Magic Staff to become a One-Man Army... but once he actually does manage it at the climax of the film, he has no idea how to use their powers, especially since he never bothered to do his research on what exactly the Princesses could do and thus having to figure them out. While he's a quick learner, this lack of skill is partially why the Mane Six are even able to defeat him by separating him from his staff and the power in question before he can get a handle on them.
- In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles starts out unable to effectively use any of his powers (although he doesn't need to figure out how to shot web at first, until he gets his hands on an actual web-shooter): he sticks to things when he's stressed, goes invisible when he's scared, and his venom strike just kind of activates a couple of times... leading to a scene where he has to run along the wall of a school building without his shirt on and with a live pigeon stuck to each hand. He gets the hang of it later, at least.
- The sequel has a rare villainous example with the Spot, who begins the movie as a bumbling supervillain who can't even rob an ATM because he can't control his new portal-making powers.
- In Turning Red, this is downplayed. Mei quickly figures out what she needs to do to transform to and from her giant red panda form. It takes a while for her to find out how to do it reliably, however.
- Yoshi from the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo! doesn't know how to use his lighting powers, and accidentally attacks Dario on his first try.
- The main cast of Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues suddenly received their superpowers via a Mass Super-Empowering Event. As a result, some of them have a harder time adjusting to their new abilities than others. Of note:
- Jacob has to spend many hours practicing his time rewinding power to get a proper handle on its intricacies. Even then, he struggles to explain the minutiae of it to other people.
- Ivan and Mirielle both received powers that allow them to esoterically control fate — Mirielle by manipulating coloured strings that connect people together, and Ivan by manipulating media to influence a real-life event of his choosing. It takes both of them a lot of practise to understand what their powers even are, let alone how to use them.
- Ciro, being Genre Blind to superhero fiction and reluctant to engage with his newfound power, struggles to figure out what his force-field generation is, and how to use it in a way that isn't instinctual.
- Bliss Stage: It takes La Résistance around a year to figure out how to pilot an ANIMa without killing themselves. It's still very unintuitive even with proper Anchoring.
- Dungeons & Dragons: The Sorcerer class is based on innate spellcasting power. 1st-level Sorcerers can create light or perhaps burn something with a bit of acid, but get more powerful with time. However, they are greatly limited in the variety of spells they can cast, as they have to figure them out themselves instead of learning them from scrolls or, in the case of Wizards and certain other classes, spellbooks.
- GURPS Supers: For many powers, power level and power skill are bought separately (and it's even possible to completely neglect buying the latter, which generally results in defaulting to an effective skill level of either DX-5 or IQ-5). It doesn't matter how many points are sunk in the former; a low score in the latter will result in someone struggling to activate their powers at all, let alone effectively.
- Masks: A New Generation: Player characters are rookie superheroes who tend to have a shaky grasp of their powers; as such, even a successful usage of them tends to be unstable or temporary unless you roll an exceptional success.
- Sea horses can't actually breathe water unless they take the feat "Return to the Sea".
- In-Universe, this is actually a problem that the ghost ponies have to deal with; they have adapted to live in the Ethereal Plane, but they have no innate magical ability to step between worlds and it's not safe for their foals to live or grow in the Ethereal. As such, they create magical items to allow them to walk between.
- Scion has the character channeling their divine power through Birthrights — gifts from their god-parents. If someone were to steal a Birthright, they could use all the real owner's powers that it channels — but the chance of failure, and the penalties, are significant though, meaning most characters who try this end up dying to this trope.
- The stage version of The Little Mermaid has the musical number "Positoovity" in which Scuttle and his fellow seagulls instruct Human Ariel how to walk.
- Brought up infrequently in LEGO's BIONICLE franchise. The Toa Metru spend almost a year's worth of story not knowing how to activate their mask powers — they eventually discover them in the movie Legends of Metru Nui. Forming Toa Kaita fusions is another power of theirs they didn't know how to master. Universally, the much more powerful Toa Nui fusion is something that no Toa ever managed to achieve, and is as such seen as a mere fable. And in the canceled 5th movie, Kiina and Ackar would have struggled to keep their newly acquired Elemental Powers in check.
- Fate/stay night:
- Shirou not only doesn't know how to shot web, he doesn't even know it's web he's supposed to be shotting!! Ahem. At first, he thinks he's supposed to be using strengthening magic, which he sucks at. Eventually, he figures out that he is much better at projection (magic that involves creating temporary replicas of real objects) and, although it's immensely taxing, picks up on that and becomes very good at it. During Unlimited Blade Works Archer reveals to Shirou that it's not projection he's good at, it's visualizing the exact nature of an object and creating it from his mind alone, which Archer eventually developed into a Reality Marble that turns him into a pure badass. At the end of that route, this allows Shirou to tap directly into his full potential. In Heaven's Feel, Shirou gains a more instinctual knowledge of his true powers through a Dangerous Forbidden Technique and being coached by Ilya, but the aforementioned technique causes brain damage and eventually kills him because that's the "From Bad to Worse" route. (Though he recovers somehow in the True End.) Oh, and in all cases Shirou still has a hard time projecting things accurately, which means they break easily.
- This also happens with Sakura, who never received proper training as a magus and because of this has trouble controlling her magic. She does wind up being able to use it by instinct... when she goes crazy and gets access to Angra Mainyu's gamebreaking powers. Oh, Crap!, indeed.
- In the third episode of Ducktalez has this happen twice in quick succession, Vegeta uses the body-change technique against Scrooge, discovering that just as he suspected, Scrooge had amazing powers but didn't know how to use them. However, when Vegeta tries blowing up his old body, he discovers he can't control Scrooge's flatulence problem and ends up switching bodies out of desperation.
- In RWBY, everybody has a unique power known as a "Semblance". However, they don't know how to use it until they either experience a Traumatic Superpower Awakening (such as Lie Ren's power of masking emotions, which he discovered as his village was being destroyed by Grimm) or just discover it by accident (like Nora's power of absorbing electricity, which she claims she found out after being randomly struck by lightning one day). This is showcased with Jaune Arc, who only discovered his Semblance at the climax of Volume 5 and still didn't understand its true effects (amplifying the Auras of his allies) immediately.
- In X-Ray & Vav, the titular duo obtain powers via Clothes Make the Superman. However, their (very reluctant) benefactor, Hilda, tossed them out in a hurry without telling them what things did, leading them to ravage their city trying to stop their first crime.
- Defection: Two heroes have great power, but the prerequisite knowledge of how to actually use magic and control the gaseous part of the periodic table does not come as secondary powers.
- Discussed in How to Hero's entry on mind-swaps.
- A common problem in the Whateley Universe.
- Fey couldn't do magic at first, and kept accidentally firing off hobgoblins — the psychedelic squirrel hobgoblins wrecked her whole school. Phase at first couldn't keep from changing density, couldn't control his strength when he was extra-dense, and couldn't keep from sinking into the floor when he was intangible. At first, Generator could only cast a single PK charge into an inanimate object for a short while. They've all gotten much better at it.
- In fact, one of the things that makes the character Mimeo so scary is that he's not just a powerful Mimic who can copy multiple superpowered opponents' power sets at once, but he's also got years of experience under his belt (he's a Whateley alumnus himself, among other things, so he did have formal power training) and so can usually avert this trope because whatever powers he's copied from you, they're probably similar enough to ones he's had before that he can skip the "figure it out" step and just use them competently straight away.
- In Worm, while most parahumans have a learning curve for their power, this trope comes into play most when people with powers like Grue's or Regent's are trying to use someone else's.
- Omega Zell changes his character at the beginning of Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions and spends the rest of the movie figuring out his new interface. This culminates near the end when he wants to launch a powerful attack on an enemy... and ends up dancing.
- In Sword Art Online Abridged, Asuna suffers from this in her debut episode. She's still a natural fighter, and a damn good one at that, but she's a total novice to MMOs who thinks DPS is "some kind of sex thing", worries that she's contracted a disease when a pop-up tells her she's got "expees", and in a game that is now literally life or death, doesn't even know how to open the interface's menu.
Kirito: How have you survived all month?
[flashback to Asuna staring at a piece of bread]
Past Asuna: ...HOW DO I EAT YOU?!
[back to the present]
Asuna: It's been a challenge.
- Learning to use a gun is often very much like this. Sure, there's the obvious parts such as pointing the barrel at what you want to kill and pulling the trigger. However, mastering a gun, especially a complex modern assault rifle, is difficult. You have to learn about sighting, trigger pull technique, the fire control group, loading, dropping magazines, changing magazines, aiming, disassembly, reassembly, and cleaning.
- Originally part of the attraction of firearms was that any idiot could be taught to use one in a couple of months or less, while mastering a longbow would take far longer (traditional longbows actually demands a lifetime of training, because you NEED to have started using one regularly in your youth to develop the muscles necessary to draw it). Firearms, in their infancy, were wildly inaccurate due to being little more than tubes containing blackpowder, an ignition source, and a metal ball for which the blackpowder would propel into an enemy, so back then "mastering a gun" did boil down to "point, shoot, and hope you kill someone else" (misfires and accidental explosion of the weapon being a big problem with early firearms). Longbows were still considered deadlier than the musket because they were accurate AND could definitively kill in the hands of a skilled archer. (The reason for all that necessary muscle? A high draw strength means a lot of force sent into the arrow, meaning the arrow having much more penetrative power than a metal ball tumbling through the air.) With the development of rifles (meaning the bullet now spins through the air and flies much straighter and retains much more force upon impact) guns managed to reach and surpass the killing power of bows, even with all the added infrastructure and costs that necessary to manufacture such weapons. While manufacturing, maintaining, and training to use firearms now is much more expensive and difficult than ever before, it is still far cheaper and more efficient than a bow. A well-made crossbow is a middle ground between the bow and modern firearms (from about the mid-19th century since). Its mechanisms are trickier to handle than a gun, but they also provide the mechanical advantages that allow a less-husky individual to still fire an arrow with lethal effectiveness. Modern bow designs like compound bows also employ mechanical advantage to reduce the necessary effort: less straining, more aiming.
- Many martial arts are good examples. Throwing a punch? Simple, right? Wrong. Each martial art has a technique, and it takes time to learn how to punch properly. Same applies to strikes, kicks, throws, stances, et cetera. To wit, one of the most common injuries in martial arts (but mostly boxing) is known as the boxer's fracture and is caused by poor punching technique. One of the first lessons taught in martial arts classes is how to make a fist, as untrained novices tend to tuck their thumbs inside their fists instead of placing it outside, which means they might break their thumb upon punching someone or something.
- Somewhat inverted with building a PC. The actual building of a PC itself is pretty straight forward as the interconnects and mounting points are designed to fit one way. Or if there is more than one way, it usually doesn't matter which way they're used. The hard part is making sure beforehand what you're buying is compatible, e.g., making sure to get the right motherboard for your CPU, the right RAM for that motherboard, etc. and troubleshooting afterwards if something goes wrong. The software side is where the real "fun" begins. Software has become so user-friendly that the average user might think that loading up a computer is as easy as installing an "app". However, if the computer does nothing but beep at you when you power it on, you had better know what "beep codes" are.note And while modern OSes have simplified the process of installing any drivers you need, your initial capabilities are still limited to whatever the OS disk has built-in support for.note
- Lucid dreaming can be like this sometimes: you know that (at least in your dream) you're a Reality Warper, but you can't figure out how to actually do anything with that. It also takes a degree of control to think of anything to do (imagination being largely tied up running the dream).
- Walking. Of all animals, humans are the most inept at moving around immediately after being born. Of course, there are many reasons for this.
- Having a bipedal gait limits the size of the mother's hips, meaning that only a small enough (and therefore weak) baby can be born.
- A proportionally sized brain wouldn't fit on the way out, so infants sacrifice developing the neurological control of their bodies until after they are born in order to reduce their skull size.
- A bipedal gait also means that each of a baby's lower limbs has to be twice as strong as those of a quadruped of the same mass in order to lift his/her weight.
- Even after a human has walked for many years, if one takes an injury that prevents them from walking for a period of time, the person has to relearn how to walk on top of their legs needing time to regain their strength to do so.
- Software development. You may have a mastery of the basics and knowledge of algorithms and such, but if you have to change from one programming language to another, you have to learn the nuances of that language. Then, you have to figure out how the software source code was structured and organized. If a project gets complicated enough, you can step away for a few weeks and forget most of what you discovered about it. This is why it's important to structure and code in a way that makes it easy as possible to pick up later.