Motor learning principles and Weightlifting

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:34 pm    Post subject: Motor learning principles and Weightlifting Reply with quote

Motor learning principles that guide the acquisition of skilled olympic weightlifting (draft):

Motor learning is the process of acquiring and retaining a skilled movement through practice.

Weightlifting lifts are classified here as serial skills that are composed of a series of discrete movements that are combined together in a particular sequence.

Motor learning occurs as a direct consequence of repeatedly performing a series of movements within a task, Practice. This is considered the singe most important variable in learning. The amount, type and variability of practice directly affect the extent of skill acquisition and retention. The type of skill to be learned and the stage of motor learning determine what practice strategies are more appropriate than others. Part-practice has been shown to be most effective in the early stages of learning for complex serial skills that have simple and difficult components. Usually it is only necessary to practice the complex parts before practicing the tasks as a whole. Whole-practice is more effective than part-practice for acquiring serial tasks in which momentum or timing of the tasks is a central focus of the learning process.

One of the first questions asked when training a new skill is, “Should
the athlete practice the skill in its entirety (whole training) or break down the skill and practice the component parts independently (part training)?”
Skills that require a high degree of interlimb coordination are best served by whole-skill practice.

Random vs. Blocked Practice: The random versus blocked practice methods represent a fundamental paradox regarding athletic performance during training and subsequent performance during competition. Based on performance measurements during practice, blocked activities, in which athletes repeatedly rehearse the same task, result in superior performance during the training session. In comparison, performing tasks and skills in random order decreases skill acquisition during training. Consequently, based on measurement of performance effects during practice, many coaches and players believe that
blocked practice is superior to random practice . Such a conclusion however, mistakenly assumes a positive correlation between performance in practice and long-term skill retention. The paradox arises from the fact that blocked practice is in fact very ineffective for
transfer of learning to competition as performance improvements measured during practice degrade rapidly, and inefficient because retraining on the same skills will be necessary. Conversely, random practice is both effective, transfer to competition is high, and
efficient, skill acquisition is relatively permanent. Indeed, the superiority of random practice has been substantiated for a large number of sports skills including volleyball, badminton, baseball, basketball, tennis, and soccer, and its utility and training applications thoroughly reviewed by Schmidt and Lee. Finally, scientific research into the neurological reasons for this superiority have revealed that variable activities
increase and strengthen the brain connections that are responsible for learning motor skills whereas simply repeating the same activities exerts no measurable effect on these brain connections. Therefore, if motor learning (transfer and retention) is the goal, random practice is a fundamental principle to follow.

"Training is specific. The maximum benefits of a training stimulus (i.e. acquiring functional skills as permanent behavioral changes), can only be obtained when the stimulus replicates the movements and energy systems involved in the activities of a sport. This principle may suggest that there is no better training than actually performing in the sport”.

Transfer is enhanced by contextual interference.

Whole v. Part Practice: No matter what skill we are teaching, they have to be doing the entire movement. We need to teach at the pace of the learner, but they have to do the entire skill.

Feedback: (“lead rather than command.”)
If you ask an athlete what they just felt or did, and they can answer correctly, that’s a much better means of learning than simply telling them.
Feedback is considered second to practice as the most important variable influencing learning. Feedback is sensory information received by the learner either during or after a performance. Two categories are broadly listed for feedback: intrinsic (internal) and augmented (external). Feedback is also described by when it is given. The type of feedback as well as amount and timing of feedback are decisions that effect learning.
Besides the athletic trainer, the athlete should be encouraged to provide the same components of feedback after they have developed a basic level of learning. This participation is thought to have a positive impact on learning.
Use of summary feedback, particularly in the associative stage, is an effective strategy to reduce the total amount of feedback given in a practice session. This is giving information about the average performance of several repetitions of a task. As augmented feedback is reduced, an athlete has to explore slight modifications to their movement strategies and analyze the results. This promotes problem-solving, self-monitoring, and self-correction. The timing of feedback should be adjusted during the learning process. Initially, immediate feedback may be necessary for safety, but isn’t very good for self-regulation. Use of delayed feedback after each repetition or use of summary feedback, gives the athlete time to problem-solve during the practice. Other timing terms used to describe feedback are concurrent (feedback that occurs during the performance of a task) and terminal (feedback that occurs after completion).
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