The proper way to improve your skill

Aussie Rules football is highly competitive. Lots of money and teams will do almost anything to get an edge.

Collingwood FC have just employed a skill acquisition coach. In my mind this is where improvement is going to be found. Typically, these teams employ past players who are conditioned to think the same way. A sports scientist is less likely to be influenced by the status quo.

Here’s a snippet of an interview of Jaime Cassidy-McNamara from the Collingwood website.

Collingwood: How do you tailor training drills to ensure you are teaching the players from a skill acquisition point of view?

JCM: We try to make sure the stimulus in training for a skill execution, whether it be kicking or handballing, is the same in training as it would be in a game. For example, that’s removing cones and witches hats and moving away from how training’s traditionally been done with lane work. I believe the Hawks were one of the first clubs first to employ a skill acquisition coach (*David Rath).

It’s more match simulations and scenario based training. A thing we work on is repetition without repetition. To explain that, you would assume most people get better by repeating a technical skill, but we want to make sure they’re getting repetition in a dynamic environment where they are adapting and learning new ways.

Science says that the best (or elite) players in the long term are the ones who can make the best decisions and who are the most adaptable. It’s not necessarily the perfect technique but it’s the ones who can find a way to make time and space for themselves to make it work.

From a golf perspective you want to make sure your practice simulates real play. Maybe you could spend less time on the driving range (because it’s not golf) and more time on the course (because this is real).

If you are going to use the driving range (it can be much more convenient at times) be sure to change clubs and target and shots regularly. Standing in the one spot hitting the same shot (driver as far as you can?) is good for some exercise, but it’s not going to help your game. And sometimes we can be easily fooled – normal repetition practice can feel good at the time and provide some great results, but when you apply pressure you can easily lose your swing.

This also helps explain why so many golfers get good results on the practice fairway but can’t replicate (transfer) to the golf course.

* I played golf with David Rath just before moving to the Sunshine Coast. He is a very good golfer and obviously doing some excellent work at Hawthorn FC

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  • Adam

    Reply Reply March 17, 2015

    I completely agree. Skill is performed better the more experience you have, and the less thought. If you go out there and try to shoot the lowest score everytime for about a year with only that in mind, not technicaL thoughts, then you will improve your score.

    If you are focused on technique, then thats what youll be good at. Technique. Not playing golf, which requires you simply hit a ball into a hole in the fewest strokes. And the more you do it, the better you get. Its just how the human system works.

    The human body adapts to the environment, so the more experience you have with golfing on the course trying to shoot a low score, the better youll be.


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