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Perfect practice or pitch perfect: a story about performance & learning

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Presented @ Huddle Dublin | September 2016

We have all experienced it – the disappointment and confusion that emerges after putting everything we have into studying, practicing and preparing only to experience utter failure when the big moment comes. We reflect, “how could I have been so successful in practice, but perform so poorly when it mattered most.” This disconnect is common, almost ubiquitous, and these situations are often associated with ‘choking under pressure’, ‘test taking anxiety’, ‘stage fright’, or something similar. Whilst dealing with pressure is part of the equation, it is not the whole story. This presentation seeks to demystify a part of this conundrum and provide insights that should help our practice stick when it counts.

Nick Winkelman, PhD | Head Of Athletic Performance and Science, IRFU

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Perfect practice or pitch perfect: a story about performance & learning

  1. 1. Performance & Learning Perfect Practice or Pitch Perfect Nick Winkelman, PhD | Head of Athletic Performance & Science, IRFU
  2. 2. Leaving Cert Examination
  3. 3. Putting for the win
  4. 4. Presenting @ Huddle Dublin
  5. 5. Scoring a Try for the win
  6. 6. Worry Anxiety Stress
  7. 7. Jana Novotna Greg Norman NY Yankees
  8. 8. Choking
  9. 9. Choking Choking is suboptimal performance, It’s a result that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past Beilock, 2010
  10. 10. Worrying When people worry about themselves & their performance, they tend to try to control their movement to ensure optimal performance Beilock, 2010
  11. 11. Learning
  12. 12. Learning relatively permanent changes in Motor behavior or knowledge that supports long- term retention and transfer to competition SoderstroM & Bjork, 2015
  13. 13. Performance temporary changes in motor behavior or knowledge that can be observed & measured during or immediately after the Practice SoderstroM & Bjork, 2015
  14. 14. (+ / -) Practice Performance (+ / -) Pitch Performance Positive Practice Performance Poor Pitch Performance Large % DIFF | ↑ Choking
  15. 15. (+ / -) Practice Performance (+ / -) Pitch Performance Positive Practice Performance Poor Pitch Performance Large % DIFF | ↓ Retention
  16. 16. (+ / -) Practice Performance (+ / -) Pitch Performance Positive Practice Performance Positive Pitch Performance small % DIFF | Performing
  17. 17. (+ / -) Practice Performance (+ / -) Pitch Performance Positive Practice Performance Positive Pitch Performance small % DIFF | Learning
  18. 18. Brain
  19. 19. DLPFC PMC SMC M1 Novice Expert 01: Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC) 02: Premotor Cortex (PMC) 03: Supplementary Motor Cortex (SMC) 04: Primary Motor Cortex (M1) “Focus On The Movement”
  20. 20. The Learning Brain of a Novice looks very similar to the Choking Brain of an Expert – the key – minimizing conscious focus on “movement steps” during skill execution Song, 2009 | Beilock, 2010 Consider how shifting your focus outward as opposed to inward could help your next big presentation or sales Pitch
  21. 21. Practice
  22. 22. Skill1Skill2Skill3 S 1 S 1 S 1 S 1 S 2 S 2 S 2 S 2 S 3 S 3 S 3 S 3 BLOCKED Serial Random
  23. 23. A progressive increase in contextual interference from blocked to random has been shown to be superior to blocked or random only. Porter et al., 2010
  24. 24. Lage et al., 2015
  25. 25. Skill Retrieval Drives learning. To strengthen retrieval we must first forget. Skill spacing & variability creates Desirable difficulty. Lage et al., 2015
  26. 26. Prepping for a big presentation or trying to learn a new skill? spacing out short & frequent bursts of practice is the key.
  27. 27. Focus
  28. 28. External Focus Explode Off The Ground Internal Focus Explode Through Your Hips External Focus Catch Ball at Highest Point Internal Focus Extend your arms as high as you can
  29. 29. Internal cues constrain the motor system by asking the person to focus on a Simple part at the expense of the complex whole. . External cues direct attention towards relevant movement features, allowing the body to self-organize a preferred movement solution. Wulf, 2013
  30. 30. External cues have been shown to inoculate choking & encourage an expert-like physiological state. Ong et al., 2010 | Neumann & Thomas, 2011
  31. 31. Choke by Sian Beilock Padraig Harrington has said, to hell with swing thoughts; he tries to keep his mind blank and think only of the ball’s flight path.
  32. 32. THANK YOU Nick.winkelman@IRFU.ie | @NickWinkelman

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