A Knowledge Of Skill Acquisition Is Powerful For Coaches

Philip O’Callaghan 🎾

twitter thread from Philip O'Callaghan 🎾

A knowledge of Skill Acquisition is powerful for coaches.

But most coaches find the literature inaccessible or aren’t even made aware of it.

Luckily there are 5 guiding principles of Skill Acquisition that coaches can use to immediately design more effective sessions.

#1 Training Design main stimulus for learning

The tasks that the players are interacting with in training will have the biggest impact on their learning.

Coaches can (co)design more stimulating tasks for/with their players by using the Constraints-Led Approach.

#2 Train the way you play

This principle really focuses on making sure that the players are facing similar problems in training as they would in the performance environment (match, competition etc.)

To achieve this the coach can use Representative Learning Design (RLD)

What is RLD?

When designing practice tasks to coach needs to make sure that the task simulates the information of the performance environment as much as possible.

It doesn’t need to be the exact same and good coaching is scaling the task to suit needs of athletes.

#3 Repetition without Repetition in training

The main idea here is that the players repeat solving a problem rather than a solution.

Rep w/o rep involves designing tasks where the players are challenged to solve the same problem in different ways under varying conditions.

How to implement it?

Coaches can change
•The dimensions of the playing area.
•The field conditions that the athletes are playing in.
•Starting conditions or movement strategy of the athlete.
•The opponents behaviours or numbers of opponents they are facing.

#4 Encourage exploration and movement variability in training

Exploration and Variability are not seen as detrimental but are actually encouraged in practice.

Coaches can encourage these through manipulating task constraints and using incentives in representative environments

The learners need to learn what information is helpful in achieving their task goal.

Learners are also encouraged to find and assemble their own unique solutions to problems. Exploring lots of different ways to achieve the task goal is crucial whether successful or not.

#5 Coach ≠ the main problem solver during training

This is a big shift for some coaches but they need to view themselves as ‘learning facilitators or designers’

Coach needs to constantly place the learner at the centre of practice &(co)design the problems around their needs.


To sum up
1. Training design is the main ‘stimulus’ for learning
2.Train the way you play
3.Rep w/o rep in training
4. Encourage exploration and movement variability in training
5. Athletes are the problem solvers

Extract from the summary of the paper👇 A knowledge of Skill Acquisition is powerful for coaches

That’s a wrap!

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