Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phases of Learning - Synthesis

To carry on my thoughts on learning progression, I mentioned 3 phases to learning technique.  If you do a bit of reading on these concepts, you’ll come across different names and different numbers of phases.  When you get beyond those 3 phases, the next step in learning is synthesis.  As one masters a skill and understands a concept, they can then extend those lessons to other scenarios and venues.

If you understand the release angles and corresponding flight paths of a hammer, you can extend those principles to any upside down throw you see or make up.

If your understanding of zone offense goes beyond, “when the disc swings, popper 1 cuts to the line, popper 2 cuts across the middle,” to the point where you understand how to create 2-on-1 matchups and pick on the defense’s weak points, you can extend those principles to any zone strategy and even extend those principles to other sports that feature zone defenses.

That’s the synthesis phase of learning.  What hinders our reaching a higher level of game IQ in our young sport is a lack of coaching and critical thought about how we play.  The simple lack of time working on our sport impedes the depths to which we can learn it.  So we teach the basics.  We (hopefully) tell people where to throw, where to cut.  How to throw, how to cut.

Invest the time to tell people why to throw there and why to cut there.  Teach the Whys.

Why are we running this drill?  Why are we running this play?  Why are we swinging the disc?  Why are we forcing flick?  Why are we running a ho?

We have limited practice time, so it's important for coaches to KISS (keep it short and simple), but plant the seeds for critical thought.  Don't overload a learner with nuance they can't handle or make use of.  It's best to go through any exposition during the drilling phase when you want to encourage the learner to think about and reflect on what they're doing.  But if we take that extra step, a few of our athletes will take it a few more, and maybe our sport will take a few steps forward as well.

1 comment:

  1. The other consideration is the timeline of the coach/captain/team. Do you have the patience/trust/time to wait for complex ideas to bear fruit? Will you put your team in short-term suboptimal situations to increase the long-term potential? How long-term? 1 Season? 3 years? The whole of a career? What do the coaches/captains owe the players w/r/t maximizing their performance over a given season w/in a given system/structure vs maximizing their performance over a career?