Principles of Motor Learning and Transfer: Training Coordination & Technique

SELF ORGANISATION/ATTRACTORS

SELF ORGANISATION/ATTRACTORS

As a result of the complexities of human movement it can be somewhat difficult to determine what the overall strategy will look like in a given situation. And understanding human movement then can be relatively difficult.

In the video below we describe an analogy for understanding how human movement will take "the path of least resistance". Human movement will inevitably attempt to move as efficiently as possible and will do so by moving through the strategy that is either easiest (to conserve energy) or most effective (optimal outcome) given the circumstance. For example, if I am walking to the fridge to get a drink, I will subconsciously choose the most comfortable pace, and most direct path. If however, I need to get somewhere super quickly, then I will subconsciously choose the fastest path, even if that means using more energy.

Furthermore, its important to remind ourselves that the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so if we have designed a drill to have the athlete focusing on internal body/joint positions, they will do so irrespective of performance, and alternatively, if we have the athlete focusing on performance they will do so without consideration to the movement pattern selection. This can be described as "self organisation" that we will orientate ourselves into positions or patterns that are the most efficient or most effective means of achieving our movement goals.

Further to this, given the vast array of options within human movement it is important to focus on the key component within a skill that are important to attempt to meet regardless of context. These we refer to as "attractors". For example, when shooting a basketball within a game, there are a million different variations in terms of positions you will catch, direction the ball will be coming from, body position, position of the defence etc. If your shot is reliant on replicating the exact same skill every-time you will likely be a good shooter in practice when you have control of context, but will be a poor or inconsistent shooter in games. We know from research that a key component of the most successful shooters is consistency in their follow through. That is, regardless of all other factors their follow through is virtually the same each and every shot. Therefore, they have patterned that in as a key "attractor" of the movement. Another example may be with the hip hinge. When completing under heavy load it is currently understood that we should be encouraging a "straight (neutral) spine" position. This is not relevant when bending over to tie my shoes up. However, the ability to shift my hips back in order to keep my centre of mass over my base of support is important regardless. Therefore, the ability to co-ordinate the posterior and anterior shift of the hips while maintaining centre of mass over your base of support is the attractor we should be trying to encourage with this movement pattern.

Therefore it is our role to assist in creating efficiencies of movement through the drills/exercises we develop in order to achieve the outcomes we are after. "Create an environment for learning and get out of the way".

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