As we dive deeper into our agility practice, we find that sessions are structured to maximize motor learning and retention. We can also see that each drill serves a purpose in the bigger plan of skill development. Again, I refer you back to Coach Davies' wheel of development.
All facets of the wheel need to be completely ready to go on game day! If we lack sufficient skills in one area, that is the weak link in our chain of athletic abilities. We need to minimize these weak links to become a dominant player. Success in many sports relies on lots of fundamental movement skills that you learn as a child.
This is another reason for you parents out there to let your kids play numerous sports when they are young to expose them to a variety of different movement forms. Running, skipping, hopping, etc. are fundamental movement forms. Those athletes that are exposed to more movement patterns are more likely to develop a better understanding of more complex motor skills later in life.
Our muscle movements, or motor skills are paradoxical. On one hand, we practice precise movements in athletics that are very hard to execute and master; years of practice are needed. On the other hand, we find that some athletes operate without even thinking cognitively about the same type of movements.
Actually, if we were to ask these athletes to think about the movements they were performing under high speeds, you might actually see a drop off in their performance levels (Kehoe 1997).
This paradox has created somewhat of a debate in the field of motor learning and retention. How do we learn new motor skills? How do we unlearn bad motor patterns that hurt performance? These questions are studied by all sorts of people from athletes to coaches, from psychologists to engineers. This is the field of motor learning and control.
If you stutter with your speech, you would call on the help of a speech pathologist who would use some of the current research in motor learning theory to begin therapy. As a Renegade, we refer to ourselves as the speed/power pathologists. We need to reprogram practice sessions, break down movements, rebuild and simplify, to become more explosive and efficient. Therefore, in a sense we have developed a POA (plan of attack).
Stages Of Motor Learning
In 1964, psychologist Paul Fitts proposed the stages of motor learning:
In future articles, we will discuss each stage and how it impacts our defensive backs' developmental package. Next, I would like to answer a question that was asked about last week's article.
Forgive me if I have worded it incorrectly, but the question asked, "Do you do your agility drills slowly with a set pattern or do you use the element of surprise within the drill?" My answer to this question will be seen throughout this series on motor learning and control as it relates to our agility practice. At any rate, a quick answer would be... we use both! We use both in a manner that allows a linear progression of the movement patterns and desired movement goals.
As the good ol' Coach Davies says, "Speed of motion comes from finite movement learned with repetition." I couldn't agree more. Remember, as we progress if there is any need for clarification please don't hesitate to email me and I will try to answer your questions as quickly as I can.
At any time you need questions answered or clarification please don't hesitate to email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next, we will take a look at some of the key components of our agility program.