Motor learning refers to cognitive, perceptual, motor and physiological responses that capture and explain motor skill acquisition and retention (Hackfort et al., 2019). Motor learning bridges the gap between the science of coaching, rehabilitation, prevention, performance and strength and conditioning. Motor learning is a relatively permanent change in a person’s capability to perform a motor skill (Schmidt and Lee 2005). Learning occurs when you practice. It is important to realize that what we immediately see during practice is just performance and no indication yet of what the athlete is able to learn. Learning takes time! We can only determine whether learning has occurred if we analyse the motor skill again (without providing specific instructions) after a certain period. This can be a couple of days or weeks and can be done by a retention test (same task as practiced) and transfer test (variation of the task). A learned movement pattern emerges as a function of the environmental, athlete, and task constraints. Motivation and attention have significant effects on performance and learning by strengthening the coupling of goals to actions. It is thus of utmost importance to acknowledge this when working with athletes (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016).
Some of the principles of motor learning we do research in and we teach:
Focus of Attention
1) External focus - provide instructions and feedback which helps the athlete to focus on the goal of the task.
2) Enhanced expectancies - create conditions that enhance expectancies for future performance.
3) Autonomy - give the athlete control over certain aspects of the practice conditions enhances motor skill learning
In our courses and lectures, we will learn you how to create these conditions necessary for optimal learning and how to look at prevention, rehabilitation and performance from a 'social-cognitive-affective-motor' point of view to get the best out of your athletes.
© 2020 by Motor Learning Institute