8 thoughts on “Is the ‘perfect model’ always perfect? 

  1. Is there a need for exposing children to periods of extended deliberate practice and repetition in order to reduce their deviations from a perfect preset pattern of movement so it become automatic? Quote from Non-Linear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: “Practitioners make the assumption that developing an optimal movement pattern will automatically lead to ideal performance outcomes but… this is a fallacy. In the end, in sports performance the only thing that really matters is outcome and this task goal should not be sacrificed for the imitation of a putative standard or expert model” Even at the most elite levels, movement solutions differ between individuals…


    1. Hi Loren. That is a wonderful comment, thank you for making it. The case Chow et al make for non-linear pedagogy based on a ecological dynamics approach to skill acquisition is for me a very strong one. It has challenged many of my held beliefs about how my pupils can learn new skills and the environment on which we can provide for them to learn in. That emergent behaviours can occur due to interactions of numerous components within the body, means that we as practitioners can teach in a way that is both effective and motivational for children. However I’m not quite willing to completely throw a traditional reproductive style of teaching out yet. I do think it has some places, especially for pupils who lack basic movement patterns, consistently produce dangerous movement patters or might need some extra support to develop. I am still relatively new in changing my methods, so any advice you have to continue would be much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To be honest, I am rather new to the idea of incorporating ecological psychology and dynamical systems theory into sport training. I run a volleyball club, and our sport is heavy into traditions when training. And traditions dictates that deliberate repetition is absolutely needed so the movement pattern becomes automatic. As I learn and explore more of non-linear pedagogy and game-sense or TGfU approaches, I am drawing the conclusion that this is not the best way to coach our sport, as it is not based in reality, but in a preconceived notion of hoped for results.
        What I find facinating is that no two executions will ever be the same.. “We never reach for a cup of water in exactly the same way. The muscles and joints all work in slightly different ways every time we reach for a drink, even if the context is exactly the same.” [Chow et all]. If this is the case, then there is not a perfect execution of a movement pattern, but rather, maybe?, principles that apply each time, with the individual finding their own expression within those principles.
        In our gym we have adopted the stance that rather than isolate a movement pattern or skill execution, we manipulate the constraints to simplify the decision making surrounding that execution. While I fully understand your point regarding dangerous movement patterns, etc, I think we can address that without eliminating the context. Removing the context of the action creates a different action I think. I beleive you linked an article in which the author said something to the effect of many people think that doing a movement without the context is not merely movement minus context.. It is a completely different response to completely different stimuli.
        And as we look at ecological psychology and dynamical systems more, we can see that the movement is not separate from the environment.. It is a result of the environment. So if we remove the context, we do not create an opportunity to work on the movement minus the environment, we are working on a completely separate invitation, as Arujo puts it.
        Again, I don’t think I have answers for you, but am enjoying exploring the story.


  2. It’s not the about movement, the model, or the technique. It’s about the principles behind each of these. This is why there are successful performers with varying techniques—-the technique, THEIR technique, is a unique combination of their own personal qualities and of the principles of efficiency (like transfer of segment velocity, dynamic balance, effortless action, etc.).

    When I work with my athletes and students, we talk about these principles, focus on the FEEL of the movement, and watch video of “perfect models” that apply these principles the best. In effect, the goal is not to imitate their technique, but to apply the principles that lead to optimal efficiency…..which, of course, will be enacted differently from person to person and context to context.

    Good post!!


    1. Hi Nate. Finally getting around to answering comments. Your point ‘the goal is not to imitate their technique, but to apply the principles that lead to optimal efficiency’ is sagacious. Whilst I would still use models to create mental representations for the child, using a deficit teaching process where errors are always highlighted and then reduced means we prevent students from exploring and discovering their own functional movement solutions to a performance problem. Variation isn’t an issue if the movement is safe and functional.


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