Friday, December 09, 2011

Good Player to Good Coach Paradox

In order to perform motor skills well, especially under stress, the skill needs to be automated.  Conscious control of the process destroys performance.  Implicit learning, learning a player cannot articulate, appears to produce the most stability under stress.  So even conscious awareness of mechanics early in the process may not be the best way to learn.

So, a good player is an "unconscious" player.  How does John teach Tom how to do something that John does unconsciously?  One way is to simply demonstrate the skill and say "Do it like this."  If John goes beyond that demonstration and simple instruction, he's flying blind.

What's  most likely is that John will simply say things he's heard his coaches or other coaches say about how to perform a stroke.  Those things may or may not be correct and have nothing to do with John's skill as a player.

The only way for a good player to become a good coach, at least for automatic processes, is for the good player to learn all about mechanics and how people learn.

What advantage does the good player's skill offer in that process?  I'd say it's at least as likely to be a disadvantage as an advantage.

UPDATE:  Here's a nice little article from Psychology Today on unconscious competence and what conscious thought can do to performance.  It's based upon an anecdote, but an interesting one.

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