Implicit vs Explicit learning and Constraints approach Implicit vs Explicit learning and Constraints approach

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Thread: Implicit vs Explicit learning and Constraints approach

  1. #1
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    Default Implicit vs Explicit learning and Constraints approach

    Having watched the Coaching Eye video and Stef’s points on implicit learning from watching others I wondered if you or Stef had any views on constraints based approaches to coaching and the issues of explicit vs implicit learning?

    About halfway through Stef mentioned that some athletes cannot explain very well what they do, they just do it.

    This struck a chord regarding the theory of constraints based coaching (as I understand it and I have only just started addressing this topic so I may be wrong) which states that when the coach manipulates the athlete, environment or task in order to achieve the correct motor pattern, without explicitly telling the athlete, they bypass the conscious awareness of the athlete.

    An example would be using the block of wood to prevent forward knee slide. If the learning was truly implicit you would only tell the athlete to touch but not to knock the block over and never mention, even in feedback, forward knee slide, its effect on mechanics or any explicit cues/information. The block will be knocked over initially but eventually the athlete will find the correct movement to stop this happening and thus correct knees sliding forwards. They will also only have one thing to think about (touch but don’t knock the block over) rather than many things (keep weight through rear of foot, shove knees out, shove knees forward but only in the first third/half of descent to a place just in front of the toes while moving the hips back and down).

    The continuation of the theory is that as a result, although the pattern can take longer to develop correctly, once formed it is much more stable under pressure as the athlete does not have a raft of explicit cues and information to fall back on and overload their working memory in competition (what is termed reinvestment). They simply execute the motor pattern on an autonomous level as they have in training as they know no different – hence, when asked, they are unable to explain how they do what they do but are very good at doing it no matter how pressured the situation.

    This seems to make sense to me based on experiences I had as an athlete and some of the things I have seen as a coach but most of the literature is careful to say these are mostly theories only with not much evidence so I am keen to know your thoughts on this as a coach of competitive athletes and in the context of the seminars you conduct given the attendees act as coach and athlete. As coaches they need to be aware of every single fault, fix,cue etc. but as an athlete can this ultimately hinder their performance?

    The explicit form of coaching seems prevalent and there are clearly a great many athletes who have succeeded in pressure situations in spite of this. Are they just too thick to take in the cues and overload themselves or is there nothing wrong with explicit coaching?

    It seems quite a few of the SS coaches also compete and you did so was/is this ever an issue? Do you purposely use limited and implicit feedback working with someone who only wants to compete? I’d be very interested to hear your and Stef’s thoughts.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I'm not familiar with your terminology. We always try to minimize instructions and cueing because it's more efficient and saves time. But the entire method is explained in detail over 25 hours to our seminar attendees.

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    As Rip says above, we minimize instructions and cues because that is a more efficient way to teach and correct movement.

    A learned, embedded movement means that the movement is not consciously directed through every aspect in a top-down sense. Too much thinking can certainly interfere with movement during the learning process. But we have not seen anyone with an impairment of any sort because they learned the movement in a "more intentional" way than needed or learned to analyze the movement afterward.

    The "when asked, they are unable to explain how they do what they do but are very good at doing it" just means that the person has not put the work into learning these aspects of the movement. Many athletes have not ever been required to do this sort of processing and/or lack the interest in doing so and have not learned these skills.

    Coaches have to be able to do this. The main problem we run into (other than a simple lack of experience as both lifter and coach) is that lots of people lack basic analytical skills and have a enormous difficultly in systematically approaching a problem.

    It is easy for us to coach someone into performing a movement and learning it. Getting that same person to be an effective coach is a different matter and a much, much more difficult and longer process.

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    My understanding of "implicit vs. explicit" comes from a short seminar on motor learning at a recent conference, but, as I understood it, "implicit" learning is learning that comes from feeling or discovering a better movement pattern, and "explicit" learning is when you copy something someone shows you. If my definitions are basically correct, I can say that I have a ton of experience with both kinds of motor learning - explicit through years of dance and martial arts, and implicit through years of Feldenkrais (which I now teach). I think both have their place in developing movement based skills.

    I have also used both to good effect to teach, but I have found that the implicit style is much more effective when it is not directed towards a specific technique, and when there is not a time constraint. I use it sparingly when I teach martial arts. I am also working with a pianist who is incorporating it into her teaching - again, she is finding that taking time out of a lesson to do intrinsic learning is not something that can be done too often. Tricks like the block of wood are gold in this regard, because the "aha" comes really quickly.

    Normally I just default to extrinsic learning because I spend a lot of time teaching newer students - except when I am giving a Feldenkrais lesson. However, most people who come to me for Feldenkrais are seeking relief from pain, not trying to learn a hip throw.

    In terms of training coaches, without a number of tricks like the block of wood, I can't see how it would be efficient to try to develop more skill with intrinsic learning. Developing the right kind of eye for allowing that process to happen takes a while, and I think extrinsic learning works quite well in many ways.

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    Thanks Stef - good to hear your opinion on this. As I said I am only just addressing this and am trying to ascertain the validity of these theories.

    As regards the athletes who haven't put the work in/aren't interested in learning the technical aspects would you take the view that this is not a problem as long as they are able to perform the skill?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Nainby View Post
    As regards the athletes who haven't put the work in/aren't interested in learning the technical aspects would you take the view that this is not a problem as long as they are able to perform the skill?
    As long as they're performing well, that's what they're judged on.

    You should note that few trainees of any caliber learn very much in the way of technical aspects of movement. That, like coaching (and anything else), requires deliberate practise to get beyond the basic level.

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    You've never had a teacher in school who was smart but completely sucked in trying to convey the concepts?

    Over the summer I took a trig refresher course at my college and the instructor graduated college as a mathematician; so obviously he's good at numbers right...yeah well he was a horrible teacher, I really felt bad for the people in the class that never took trig before because this guy was a spaz, he must have had adhd or something because he just wrote shit and was like you get it right? great! next problem

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattJ.D. View Post
    You've never had a teacher in school who was smart but completely sucked in trying to convey the concepts?
    This is precisely why it took me 6 tries to pass Calc I. I had an actual teacher for Calc II, made an A the first time through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    This is precisely why it took me 6 tries to pass Calc I. I had an actual teacher for Calc II, made an A the first time through.
    I've had the same sort of experience with math teachers in college, all the way up through Diffy Q. The prof I had for Calc II was the best math teacher I ever had. The actual subject of Calc II ((sequences, series, multivariable) was probably the branch of math that I cared least about and could relate to the least. But the fact that the prof used actual, you know, teaching methods and good practices meant I got something like a 97 in the course. Which, believe me, was not typical for me & math classes.

  10. #10
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    Implicit is more effective in virtually all fields, IMO. Not just in coaching athletes to do things correctly (or simply better).

    There's no better way to convince someone of your point of view ... than putting them in a situation where they think they've come up with the idea themselves. Used all the time doing group facilitation, marketing, etc.

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