The Power of Reflection
Today's blog is on reflection, something more and more important in our busy world.
Hard recall helps embed experiences and learning. What we remember immediately after an event and what we recall at varied times, and after we can adjust. We can bend things negatively or positively depending on our disposition.
Taking notes on performance in training and sport is a very powerful habit. We may have read some self help books or extracts or heard people talk about making notes every night and kinda dismiss it as over the top, a bit obsessive, or very straight. But when you practice formal and informal reflection you slowly start to see the power of it.
Reflection can help us sleep better with the very simple habit of writing down 1-3 things we achieved that day and the first 3 actions we will take the next day. Even as simple as, get up, have breakfast, bring kids to school, arrive at my desk and have a good day. That kind of imagery has been shown to be very effective both for reducing anxiety and improving quality and quantity of sleep.
Reflection helps us learn. Of course we need to be honest with ourselves at times or get external critique and support.
Why are we learning?
We learn to be more competent or, to take one of social sciences mental models, we desire a "Circle of Competence". We know from previous articles and from models or theories like the Optimal Learning Theory and Self-Determination theory that a feeling of autonomy and competence underpins a lot of a human's desire or intrinsic motivation to do anything.
As coaches and leaders we are trying to support this growth. Of course an awful lot of it is dependent on the individual and their history of motivation. But to complete a "Circle of Competence" the learner needs these 3 things: curiosity and a desire to learn, monitoring, and feedback.
Reflection, though, is almost like a monitoring and feedback loop all of its own.
I would add to those 3 elements of competency that the individual needs an element of desire and discipline to try things, stick with them, and also be prepared to fail. We can't have competency without failure.
Reflection in skill development
Reflection also has been shown to help with skill development in physical activities and sports.
As coaches or teachers, the questions we ask can have a massive effect on the people we are working with. Even between games on a pitch or classes at school. Asking positive, leading questions that force the person to retrieve what just happened and think about it will help increase the knowledge of the subject or the success of their actions in a game.
For instance, as a coach we can tag it to the principles of play of the sport or the principles of our team. We may have designed a great game or practice to physically improve it, but we are slowing the learning process. Therefore, maybe success, by not adding a reflection element to it.
Positive realism is the best approach I feel here. We can't ignore defeat or consistent failures but we don't need to dwell on them either. Moving forward with positive reinforcement will allow us to work on the weaknesses as well.
Specific and positive affirmations rather than general praise is another important element of this reflection being really worthwhile. Instead of "great save made there keeper", we could reinforce fundamental principles by saying "I really liked your movement across the goal and concentration on the ball before the shot, and your feet moved really well to be in the right position to make the save."
This is going to support the keeper to learn that the positive result he got came from a process he went through. He is much more likely to repeat this again as the quality movement and concentration is associated with success. This could be called 'co-reflection'; the players' feedback here and description themselves would be great also.
With major performance events like competitive games I use a simple positive approach called the 3:1 approach - 3 things you did well and 1 thing you would like to work on. That 1 thing may be a constant, and that's fine as long as you have a plan to actually deal with it, and an approach to improvement.
A lack of action in an area constantly emerging would likely lead to some form of blockage to actually improving. This is where a growth mindset from the coach/parent and player is critical. Particularly at adult level I still hear too much of "ah he's 24, you'll never change him now." Or if they don't have a particular skill: "ah, if you don't sort that before they're 12 they'll never get it - Bullshit.
What it invariably is, is that the coach is not motivated enough to try. This might be as the players’ ability is already "adequate" or they don't see a player worth working on. Or they don't know how.
This is why I believe coach education should have a lot more learning science, psycho-social modules, and skill acquisition. This is opposed to the heavy technical element it now delivers in most sports, growing too heavily tactical as people go through the levels.
The positive lean on reflection for sports performance has the embedded aspect of driving motivation and supporting an athlete to be confident in their strengths while keeping an eye on weaknesses. Traditionally coaching has focused on constantly trying to pick at weaknesses and this approach often leads to a drop in confidence in the athletes.
As coaches ourselves
We can be a little more critical if we want, in private and with management. If we understand the frameworks we work within, we can have a bit more balance on positive:negative ratio. Because it's up to us to see things down the road and be like a snooker player playing a few shots ahead.
The best and most consistent leaders were "suspicious of success".
Can we get better?
Defeat is easy to analyse
Loss emotionally drives reflection. However, success releases endorphins that can sometimes mask deeper issues. This can be the case in business, relationships and sport.
Why do seemingly good relationships fall apart quickly sometimes? Why do winning teams get undone by a freak result? Why do businesses have a run of success but then can not adjust to a sudden technology, social, or economic change?
Usually a lack of reflection through success.
One could look at reflection like part of a cool down, or as suggested above, part of the bedtime routine.
Reflection with Imagery
While the cognitive revolution from thousands of years ago meant we got off the trees, we now go and overthink everything. One of the benefits of this that does differentiate from other primates is that we can imagine.
Neurobiology seems to indicate that we are essentially the only animal who can make things up, but we can also imagine possible scenarios, even if they never happened to us, before by imagining possibilities. That means we can imagine how a game may play out based on all the games we played in the past.
Adding this kind of imagery to positive but clinical reflection are a powerful duo. If we can reflect as athletes with a positive tint and be critically fair to ourselves (and players if we are the coach reflecting on technical performance), we can allow for levels of imagery which could raise expectations and support skill acquisition or team and individual development down the road.
So that's it for this week, see you next week.
Good is better than perfect
The value we put on the benefit of the learning will have a massive influence on what exactly we learn and retain. If you buy a guitar, the probability of making an effort to learn some tunes increases. If you see a module in college as really interesting, you will make an effort to learn and it will be easier to retain.
Modern Box Ticking, False "Learning" - When education fails
One of the problems I feel with the typical approach and feel of learning is there is now so much box ticking and so much "learning" and "testing" in the world. It's seen as necessary that we are so sick of "learning" as it's so hard we jack it in as soon as we finish that Masters. It's seen as a means to an end. This is a tragic waste of interest and ability.
Another major issue with learning across many areas is the search for perfection. Perfection is the enemy of good.
The Leaving Cert in Ireland has become one of the most bizarre, illogical and damaging pursuits and exams not only in Ireland - but anywhere. Very few countries come anywhere close to the ridiculousness of our Final State exams. You cannot get into multiple 3rd level courses like Medicine now without 6 A1's or even more for some specific subjects.
What this has led to is a systematic approach to getting through it, very little actual learning and a heap of unnecessary stress.
If you want to do well at your leaving cert, forget about learning anything much. In other countries at least, there are openings for people who may be suited to a subject to make a side door or backdoor entry to the field. They just need to show competency in related subjects, and not just state exams.
This box ticking approach hurts Ireland as a country as we get so many "Professionals" who are not that particularly passionate about their job and are in it for money and/or status.
Unfortunately this type of thinking infiltrates our arts & sports pursuits as well, turning many, children in particular, off. Something that's fun is more easily learned, and stuck at.
Desirable Difficulties returned
In the last article we spoke about desirable difficulties and some unusual difficulties. Some that seem like an annoyance at one level can actually be of benefit, a positive interference so to say. For instance, when text on a page is in a font that's blurry or we are not familiar with and we have to look a little harder, we retain the information in the text better. How about that for interference!!
Another clever learning trick that some teachers have been at for years is to jump around the chapters and not deliver the curriculum in the chapter by chapter way. This approach has also been shown to help academic retainment. It won't make your Netflix binging more enjoyable though, so do that in a linear fashion!
In sport we now have coach education which is a linear - learn this technique first and then we will let you play the game - kind of approach. Any bit of depth of thought here, though, makes us realise kids don't pick up sports in a linear fashion. And then there is the interference of other sport and home life.
Each individual is learning in a different way because of all their own environmental differences - like having siblings. Maybe they play Frisbee in the big park they live beside, so overhead catching may come easier from them compared to the kid who lives rurally and has less interactions and practices alone with a lot of striking.
These are all learning interferences so as coaches we need to go in with an open mind and observe before we jump in because we don't know what's needed yet.
Generative learning is another interesting, but in ways familiar to us, form of learning. Essentially, this is us putting some new material with a bunch of old stuff we already know. That linking process helps create signposts for ourselves for the future. Slowly but surely, the more we are around the new information, in the journey so to say, the less we need those signposts.
That might be one reason analogies and cuing can be so helpful in motor skills. Generative learning helps us learn with understanding. If we can associate it to something we already know then it puts us at ease and we will open our brains to taking more on, and in a smoother way.
Another element of generative learning is finding incorrect answers to solutions. Basically trial and error. Sticking to the task and having the determination to find an answer helps greatly. This makes sense to us as we can all agree nothing worth learning comes easy, if it's easy we would already have it, and so would everyone else. But unsuccessful attempts at finding answers leads to a deeper embedding of the right result when we finally get there.
Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes good learning .
While we will go into a bit deeper in later weeks, the practice of reflection is a powerful tool. Reflecting on a new chapter in a book, on a lecture you did at college, on your performance at Hockey training - they all help deeper our appreciation of the recent activity and allow for deeper learning. in some cases. Especially with new stuff. But reflection and generative learning have important connections and work well together.
Somewhat related to our faulty education systems, allied to an actual attempt at "errorless learning" from the 60's. The idea of errorless learning is a very narrow and dangerous approach. One thing it is based on is taking very small bites of a subject, reading/practicing them, and then testing them straight away.
It would be like taking 7 days of driving lessons twice a day, with assessments as you go, doing the State test on Day 8, passing, and then thinking you were ready for the road.
There is this purveying belief that if we allow learners make mistakes, it's the mistakes that they will retain. This has led to people attempting perfect practice in sports. Even writing this, and you need no research for this, it sounds insane. And it is. But it's real and it exists.
If we give supportive feedback, and allow further exploration, the learner will not only finding better solutions, the learning will be deeper.
Again, research around this tells us that asking someone to solve something without any possible solution-giving first, leads to better learning and retention. Much like my well worn approach to coaching children sports now - let the game be the teacher, and we can support from afar then.
Also another important aspect of all this is, is framing. If we can frame for the learners that the difficulty is part of the fun and process, then not only will the learning of that task be deeper - we are supporting a learning for life and embracing difficulties as a human.
A social example we may all understand - Have you ever winced and bit your tongue when a new mother repeatedly goes over and helps a toddler with absolutely everything? In that case she is reducing that child's ability to learn for themselves and take on challenges possibly for LIFE.
Think about that for a second, and the potential impact of helicopter parenting for instance.
So this stuff is real, it's important and it will help us every day.
So that's it for this week, next week's topic will be "Optimal Learning Conditions."
Have a great week.
Difficult is good
Struggle is the mother of learning. And not in the "I'm never drinking again" moment of hangover pain kind of struggle and learning - cos we know that doesn't work. More in the struggle to understand a subject that we are intrinsically motivated to learn - be it for the information itself or as a means to an end. The means to an end one is far, far harder, but still works.
Rather counterintuitively walking away and leaving the struggle after some effort is a good idea. Intuitively I think we get this. A writer needs a walk after an hour of writing. We all understand the 'clear the head' mentality, yet so often we don't do it. Walking away and spacing your information gouging attempts allows you to digest what you have been eating up from the books or internet or classroom.
We see this in coaching for instance when using deliberate practice methods. If we really want to excel or even learn a skill in sport we need to put a lot of focus into it. Deliberate practice has to be focused, intense and has to have difficulty. Then it pays to walk away for a period of time (as in a couple of days) and go back to it, or add a slight variation. We will talk about it down the road, but that need then for retrieval is absolutely critical to the learning process.
In real life I have applied this to reading. After finally deciding to stop buying books and start reading them all I came up with a bit of a system. Up to 4 books on the go at any one time. One in the car, one in the laptop bag, one by the bed, and one at work. But I would stick to one chapter at a time, as in finish a chapter of whichever book, before moving to another.
For most books, but not something like a biography, I will take notes as I go. At the end of the chapter I write down what I can remember of the chapter, then go back to the notes and see how well I remembered. It is slower, and it does stretch the brain at times when I have stopped for 3 days due to work or life and I return half way through a chapter - but it works.
I have adopted similar approaches to coaching, and have seen an accelerated learning of things like principles of play, strategy, new skills. I don't assess the players in the same way, it's far more casual, but I am using those methods.
That is retrieval practice. And the harder the retrieval, the harder you have to think about it, the better the consolidation.
In our rush to satisfy the demands of the ever-so-wonderful Instagram and life healers on Twitter tell us “10 pages a day”, “a book a week” kinda nonsense. Is anybody actually reading all the books? And what’s being retained? Learning science would suggest not as much as we might think.
New learning is shaky. Different theories have slightly different takes on it but basically we need some form of consolidation. In sport skill development we talk about motor learning versus performance and interestingly there are some references worth noting here, too, in relation to exam study:
Studying for exams is similar in that if we cram for exams we can scrape through our assessments based on cramming, but we won't retain much or any of the crammed material. Where as if we steadily studied all along using spaced, interwoven, and retrieval practices (could be small tests) then we will much more readily retain the material.
But we also learn deeper when we attach our learning to other knowledge we have picked up in the past. That is going to give even more rootage to our learning.
Its weird, but forgetting is good, as long as we reach back again for the learning before its too late. But sometimes forgetting is part of learning something new. Like if we try to learn French late in life we may have to try and forget the Irish we learned back as a kid as there may be interference. A more probable example we will all encounter is changing from an iPhone to Android or visa versa. It's so hard, for a while, to work the iPhone because we have become so accustomed to the patterns of usage on the Android.
But if we want to master any field or excel on a subject, getting deeper with associative subjects will help our greater understanding. Like if we learn about human behaviour from the perspective of a neuroscientist, our grandad, a master coach, our school teacher, and from economic psychology - its the crossover of important and consistent information that we will retain, and be able to verify, on the subject of human behaviour. This is broadly the idea of conceptual learning. We get broad concepts of a subject from various angles.
The interweaving of all the different types of information kinda bring us to a deeper place. My experience of this would be, say, matching S&C with previous coaching field sport experience. I was quickly able to see some of the things in the text book didn't match with reality so I was able to interweave my experience with this new information.
Then I started layering skill acquisition and that started tearing off some of the old coaching practices that neither my anecdotal, trial and error coaching experience along with Sports Science had not taught me. Skill Acquisition introduced me to deeper knowledge and reading around pedagogy and learning science. In recent years I've been putting a frame on things (and actually ironically) with more information - simplifying things. That’s interleaving on a long term basis.
There might be some relation here to motor learning and tactical intelligence that occurs in athletes who play multiple sports, some ideally on a casual basis. Some players have even reported believing they figured out tactics playing FIFA for soccer. While years ago this may have been scoffed at, there might be something in that. The interruption of casual basketball, or even competitive basketball could have an influence on someone becoming a better hurler. Or even the struggle of trying to beat your older sister in 1-on-1 soccer in the back garden could help with the technical, motor skill and tactical ability to side step someone playing Gaelic football years later.
It's also brought me to books about wayfinding and how the people of the arctic found their way around, and the origins of Islam and how that emerged - but that's for another day ;)
So from this there might be a pause for us if we are studying a subject or trying a new thing, how can we relate it to what we already know?
What might we have to un-learn?
What other subject could I casually read about in tandem that won't feel too much like work or studying?
If you are a coach starting out, how does my job mirror coaching? How would I behave in the office and what might make me behave differently on the pitch? What have I read about leadership that I use in the corporate world that can help me coach?
That’s it for this week, in next week we will broaden the desirable difficulties chat to priming your mind for learning, using other strategies for creating desirable difficulties that may help coaches, discuss a generative difficulties, the myth of errorless learning, and finally undesirable difficulties.
Have a great week.
We are in a very unique circumstance now as coaches, athletes and those who takes their health and fitness seriously.
However there are numerous ways of staying or even getting fitter. In fact i see this as an opportunity to become more athletic as we can do a broader range of exercises and challenge our energy systems in a different way that's not always possible. That is physiological side.
However what about our skills?
Our Sports Skills and out Mental Skills?
No they won't improve by hitting a ball off the wall. Or in the case of Mental skills by doing nothing. We can work on both, somewhat simultaneously.
If you are from Ireland you will understand what Hurling is, or maybe you do and you are not from here. Its an immensely skillful and aggressive game played 15v15 on a grass field. It is exceptionally skillful, and science would suggest there is so much going on its the most skillful sport in the world. Read Ed Coughlan (a Skill Acquisition expert here in Cork) on this subject.
Look at this video below and then tell me that hitting a ball off a wall supports hurling.
Watch the whole 2 minutes
Skill acquisition is seen as the development of a functional performer-environment relationship (Araújo & Davids, 2011; Zelaznik, 2014). The learner does not exist independently of a learning and performance context. (Chow; Davids, Button, Renshaw 2016)
If you look at the goal TJ is surrounded by players, players that weren't there hitting a ball against a wall. What he did have though was the feel of where he was, the distance from goal, the little bit of space if he doubled back that he knew from this range if it got through the scrum of bodies the only way it would be saved was if it hit the keeper. I believe it was a % shot and one done in a contextual situation where the time of the game mattered ( a miss would be no big deal), the corner back slipped and the opposition were caught cold after HT break.
This is not something created alone.
So hitting a ball off a wall unopposed does not improve you as a hurler in our opinion and is supported by a fair chunk of research, unless you are a complete novice. (Skill Acquisition in Sport, Hodges & Williams, 2020)
I would suggest that for a competent hurler or footballer if they decided to not do anything closed skill practice at all for a 4-6 week period like in this lock-down but just stayed reasonably fit, 15 mins into a training session they would be up to speed to where anyone else would be who may have hit 1000's of ball off a wall.
In fact what it is most likely to do is enhance poor movement patterns or bad habits. If there is not a real deliberate element to the practice then it could actually be decreasing ability on a pitch. Hurling off a wall - repetitive nature of it could actually lead to over use injuries.
These ideas are not simply of theoretical value since too much repetitive practice of multi-articular actions, especially in early specialization pathways, could lead to increased risk of overuse injuries in developing athletes undergoing rapid growth and maturation (Davids et al., 2013).
And the amount of time you spend at it, or indeed any development, may not matter either.
The nature and design of the practice activities undertaken by each developing athlete are far more important than calculating the time spent practicing, which seems to vary greatly (Hambrick, Oswald, et al., 2014; Hambrick, Altmann, et al., 2014.)
The same stands for pretty much all team field and court sports with the exception of close drills such as free throw shooting in Basketball, Free Taking in Hurling or Gaelic Football, Goal Kicking in Rugby and Aussie Rules and so on. However even those tasks lose the environmental factors that will test performance and may add anxiety to performing a closed skill, for example in front of 60,000+ people in games you trained 20 years for.
Back to Hurling. There are 2 walls people use - Hurling Alleys in clubs (now closed) and the gable end of your house.
So what can hurling off a wall actually do to be of benefit;
What it does not do;
*Coach note - Players after a growth spurt may face new challenges with their "new body". A young boy can grow 5 inches in a summer or winter break. His new limb lengths may interfere with his coordination and movement skills - be patient and supportive. Equipment like shoes, Hurley, helmets, rackets etc all may need to change. For a small period he/she may not be the same player you saw a few months ago.
Developing skill is about having an efficient Motor System, see this description of Motor Control
"Motor control can be defined as the study of how an individual can execute designated motor skills through the neuromuscular control process in response to external environmental demands (Haywood & Getchell, 2009; Latash & Lestienne, 2006)"
A major issue with traditional approaches is that they tend to promote a rather mechanistic view of human behaviour, failing to consider the wide array of constraints which impinge on an individual’s learning and performance including psychological, social and physical factors, (Chow; Davids, Button, Renshaw 2016)
When i have had these discussions in the past people come back with "Joe Canning said so, Pat Horgan said so, TJ Reid said so". Well i believe they may be wrong and either being paid to say it (good for them) or it is a bias of some description. Look at the names, look at their exceptional athletic ability first, then look at their clubs - Portumna, The Glen and Ballyhale. 3 of the most successful clubs in history of hurling with some of the greatest characters to grow up listening to and aspire to. Look at their names, surrounded by siblings and parents who had notable success. Nature + Nurture, environmental factors trump all. The Psycho-Social elements at play here are at the top end of the scale. Now if Sean Og O' Halpin said it was effective for him, its most likely it was significantly more so arguably than the other 3 - he arrived in Ireland at 11/12, at the tail end of the important sports skill development range between 9-12. Again though his athleticism and his support structure, his club were exceptional, the school attended and the fact they were strong at the time were all factors in carrying him along. Self determination aside, an obvious factor in all these cases.
But athletically these 4 men are extremely strong and mobile. The underpinning physical trait of modern hurling. That's the first thing that's gives them an advantage.
It is often thrown at S&C Coaches or indeed field or skills coaches that share or encourage their methods that "S&C never put the ball over the ball" or "those games are grand but we need to practice the SKILLS of the game". By practicing the skills of the game, they mean unopposed drills usually. However we believe that physical development actually supports skill development and unlocks potential. It allows more opportunities to put the ball over the bar. Skill isn't much use to you if you cannot win your own ball, find space, beat your man and physically compete. But these are actually skills as well, in fact some of the most skillful movements performed now are actually in ruck situations which are highly physical exchanges in attempts to gain possession. The clever flick and intelligent positive positioning (as in be in a place to attack the other goal) are a brilliant element of the modern game often lost by commentators.
Genetic abilities, limb length, muscle fibre content and other inherited attributes have limits. We can all improve our athleticism and even the content and speed of our muscles, but unfortunately there are limitations. We have ceilings to our abilities. Having read some papers (see below) on the physical abilities of club and county players, speed, power and the ability to reproduce high speed runs and explosive outputs is the most obvious difference physically.
Basically choose your parents well, and then get them to move to an area with a great tradition of hurling, or football or whatever you want to be great at.
According to an ecological dynamics rationale of skill acquisition, it is the information–movement relationship that transfers between the task constraints of a faithfully simulated practice task and a competitive performance environment (Pinder et al., 2011a)
"This compelling rationale indicates that the information present in a performance environment needs to be represented in a practice environment designed to simulate constraints in specific individual and team sports " (Chow; Davids, Button, Renshaw 2016)
Or - in lay mans language - How we practice is how we will play!!!
That said, we all want to get better and we all want to reach the highest level of skill we can.
So how can we do that in a quarantine state of lock-down?
Here are 3 we ways we suggest you can try;
The difference in levels from lower to middle range is general physical. You get a Junior team exceptionally fit you give yourself a great chance of success. However as you go up the grades the one standout trait above all is Mindset, awareness, focus, vision, scanning, anticipation and many more elements greatly controlled between the ears. We will try to help athletes and coaches just think about a small few of those elements in this series of blogs.
In part 2 we will start with our suggestions on Mindset discussing the areas of Self talk, Goal Setting, Focus & Mindfulness for sport, Imagery & Intensity, Routines & Motivation and offer some suggestions and solutions to help athletes improve in times of downtime or away from the pitch
I love the pressure. I just look forward to it. " Daly Thompson, Olympic decathlon gold medalist
A little extra reading on 2 studies found in Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: An Introduction
Chow, Jia Yi; Davids, Keith; Button, Chris; Renshaw, Ian
1. Spring Board Diving Practice
This important idea was investigated in a study of traditional training practices in elite springboard diving. For example, Barris and colleagues (2014) studied preparation for take-off in an elite sample of Olympic-level springboard divers when diving into a pool and under the different task constraints of training in a dry-land facility comprising a foam pit. Elite divers tend to routinely practise in separate training environments (dry-land and pool), requiring differences in final performance outcomes, especially landing (feet first and head first, respectively). Divers seek to practise the same preparation phase, take-off and initial aerial rotation in both practice environments, although there is little empirical evidence to suggest that the tasks completed in the dry-land training environment are representative of those performed in the pool environment. The concept of conditioned coupling in ecological dynamics signifies that performance of different movement components would remain dependent on each other, and slight variations in task constraints could lead to different emergent coordination patterns (Davids et al., in press). In line with these theoretical predictions, it was expected that emergent self-organisation tendencies under the two distinct task constraints would lead to differences in preparation. Barris et al. (2014) observed similar global topological characteristics in all participants who used the same joint coordination patterns during dive take-offs completed in the dry-land and aquatic environments. However, as a group, participants showed statistically significant differences in performance at key events (second approach step, hurdle-step, hurdle jump height and board angles during the hurdle and at landing) during the preparation phase of dive take-offs completed in dry-land and aquatic training environments. For example, participants showed significantly less board angle depression at landing (from the hurdle jump) during take-offs completed in the dry-land area than during those completed in the pool.
2. Soccer Practice of Passing
These ideas on the relationship between carefully designing affordances in the constraints of practice tasks and the processes of transfer have also been confirmed in the context of team games. Travassos et al. (2012) examined practice task design in team sports, reporting data to show how enhancing representativeness of a practice simulation might increase opportunities for transfer in team games training. Travassos and colleagues (2012) studied futsal players during a ball-passing practice task and manipulated informational uncertainty (of passing direction) for practising players. Informational uncertainty during passing practice was increased under four distinct task constraints and compared with passing behaviours observed during a competitive match. They made the plausible assumption that greater similarity of behaviours observed during practice, compared with competitive performance, signalled the transfer of skill in passing. Intermediate-level football players were required to perform simple and complex passing drills (straight versus diagonal versus diagonal and lateral passing lanes with more than one ball in use). In their study, the terms ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ were differentiated by the amount of variability designed into the practice task simulations. The simple passing drill took place in a single predetermined lane (including less environmental variability), whereas the complex passing drill involved multiple passing opportunities which were emergent (pass direction emerged depending on whether the receiver had a ball or not and therefore included more environmental variability). Speed and accuracy of passing performance in practice tasks were compared with observations during competitive performance. Results showed the greatest similarities in passing speed and accuracy between performance in the multiple passing lane condition and actual competitive performance. There was too much regularity in ball speed and accuracy in the passing task constraints with fewer options, compared to the level observed in task constraints with more options (predetermined versus emergent conditions). These measures showed how transfer of learning was predicated on action fidelity between skill performance in practice and competitive performance. According to Travassos et al. (2012, p. 5), ‘increasing the number of emergent passing actions offered in a practice task design was more representative of competitive performance’. These data show how the informational constraints of practice tasks should be designed to represent the informational constraints of a competitive performance environment in team sports. Data revealed that, for the skilled performers, predetermining limited passing options did not lead to similar levels of speed and accuracy as did creating emergent, multiple passing options and competitive performance. The findings suggested how transfer between practice task constraints and the performance environment can be achieved in team sports training. In order to understand how to ensure transfer of informational constraints of a competitive performance environment in a practice task simulation, an important concept to understand is representative design.
- Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: An Introduction
Chow, Jia Yi; Davids, Keith; Button, Chris; Renshaw, Ian
- Skill Acquisition in Sport Research, Theory and Practice, Nicola J. Hodges and A. Mark Williams
- A Comparison of Anthropometric and Performance Profiles Between Elite and Sub-Elite Hurlers, (Keane 2019)
- An investigation into the variation that exists between the physical performance indicators of hurling players at different levels of participation
Murphy, Andrew https://ulir.ul.ie/bitstream/handle/10344/2832/Murphy_2012_investigation.pdf?sequence=5
- The positional technical and running performance of sub-elite Gaelic football , Mangan 2019 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24733938.2019.1679872
And something to read before Part 2 to help us along those lines
- Effects of a cognitive specific imagery intervention on the soccer skill performance of young athletes: Age group comparisons Krista J. Munroe-Chandler https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38138264_Does_Mental_Practice_Work_Like_Physical_Practice_without_Information_Feedback
- Using cognitive general imagery to improve soccer strategies Krista J. Munroe-Chandler