- Posted by Will Stubbs
- On September 3, 2019
Geek Rating – 5/5
Read Time – 8 Mins
Watch Time – 30 Mins
We are part of an ever-changing world. Humans are incredible adaptive creatures that continually seek out efficient and effective solutions to move, explore and perform. We need to keep doing this and even more so in our modern culture. As Keith says “Search, Discover, Exploit” or at Zen we simplify this to Play, Learn, Perform. Get out there and explore the game through play, seek why things happen and learn how to truly and refine your game and reach higher levels of performance. Ultimately enjoy the process.
One for the coaches out there or anyone wanting to delve a little deeper into the key theories that underpin how we deliver sessions and develop our craft here at Zen. A little bit of background of the video, Keith Davids is the leading expert for applying ecological dynamics to skill acquisition in sport, here he is delivering a talk at the 2013 Congress for the European College of Sport Sciences.
TIP: Have a quick read of the next three paragraphs before clicking the play button.
So what is ecological dynamics? It considers that we are all our own complex dynamic (ever-changing) system, made up of other little systems and part of a much bigger system called the universe. So what do we mean by a system? A system is a ‘set of things working together in an interconnecting network’. So as human beings we have a muscular system, digestive system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, nervous system, skeletal system, vestibular system and so forth. Each system works with one another to help keep us the human system alive and functioning. Your now saying “Yeah that’s obvious, but isn’t this post about coaching?” To answer that question, yes it is and here’s why… As all systems are interconnected, if something happens to one of them it will have an affect on another one. This happens both between systems, but also within the system. For example if you pulled your hamstring muscle playing Soccer the rest of your muscular system will begin to adapt based on pain (from our neurological system & nervous) and mobility around that point. As such we’ll begin to limp to protect that muscle group. Our body will begin to create new a functional movement pattern to do help, it will also crave more protein and rest to repair itself. It may also affect us psychologically, we may begin to develop a new perception of our safety playing Soccer. In so we are subconsciously coordinating a whole restructuring of our systems. We will never been the same again, in fact at every moment of every day we are constantly adapting to micro changes that occur within the day.
So now consider the way we learn something. We must be aware that every experience we have with golf forms a new connection between us, the task of golf and our environment. These three elements are connected and as such if the environment changes such as becomes more windy or you play off a different slope like you do at every turn on the course, your body needs to adapt and you have to make a new functional movement pattern to fit that new task challenge.
Keith covers many of the topics we have in non-linear pedagogy for coaching, including the importance of representative learning designs in our practises, noting the importance of how we need to solve movement problems within the context of the sport. That means learning through in an environment that replicates the course, i.e. not a driving range. He also notes how we use information from the task-environment to make decisions and how behaviour changes and fluctuates based on the interacting constraints. Identifying that we must have relative cues from the competitive environment to develop the desirable performance / skill learning.
Our job as coaches or people learning the game is to understand the influence of different cues within the environment; how can we use / not use / change or alter them to encourage the desirable behaviours (i.e. movement, skills, decisions) to occur.
Key things to consider:
- Do your practises represent the competitive environment in terms of perceptual information (what we see and feel) and inter/intra personal constraints; players, intensity, level of complexity.
- Question whether what you see is also what your student sees. How does the challenges / games set link to the competitive environment, but also to their perception of it. Can you easily identify the ‘WHY’ behind the practice activity?
- To help develop better decision making, we must understand not just what is in the head, but what our head is in… i.e. the environment. Better decisions doesn’t come from repeating the same process, but by being exposed to as many experiences as possible to make decisions. Get out on the course!
- How can we use the environment to our advantage? Think about some golfers who’ve done this so well… Seve chipping through the bunkers in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale 1976 is a perfect example of this. Explore the opportunities to act and solve problems the course throws at you.
- Important one for the coaches out there. If you’re going to tell your student to do something in a certain way, you better be sure it’s going to make a positive affect on their experience in golf. All systems affect one another, so ensure you’re the good side of that connection.
I know this one is a little high up on the geek rating, but if everyone understood this a little better, not only would you become better golfers, but understand how to become a better human being as well. We are all interconnected and affect one another, so let’s make sure that the affect we have is to make the world a better place. As the All Blacks say “Leave the jersey in a better place.” Let’s ensure everyone who we meet leaves happier because of meeting you.