December 04, 2021
The first stage of learning is the cognitive stage. The learner is in the early learning phase because they are actively thinking about the presented skill. This phase does not necessarily mean the learner is a beginner but learning something new. The instructor communicates with the student in this phase using words, visual or kinesthetic examples, or other feedback tools to help illustrate a point. The student’s primary goal in the early learning phase is to understand how to perform the skill. This allows the student to complete a skill well enough to begin practicing it, with relevant feedback and further instruction when needed. During the Cognitive Stage, performance is full of errors, and timing lacks consistency and accuracy. The learner may observe or know that they are doing something wrong but not understand why it is inaccurate or what needs to be done to improve.
In the cognitive stage, learning is truly a patchwork of previously developed abilities and movements ready to be integrated with one or more new motor programs to form a new skill or correction.
Every person learns new skills by applying previously acquired motor programs and abilities. For example: learning how to crawl with the cross-crawl pattern can be used to walk. Similarly, the learning of new golf skills is essentially a matter of transferring previously acquired motor programs, movement patterns, and abilities to the motor programs and skills about to be learned.
Specific existing motor programs and skills transfer positively to facilitate the learning of new golf skills, and others communicate negatively and interfere with new understanding. For example, a previously learned hockey slap shot can transfer positively and facilitate the learning of clubface control at impact in the golf swing. Conversely, a student who works long hours sitting at a desk may experience negative transfer when trying to make a golf swing due to poor posture and a lack of mobility.
During the cognitive stage of learning, students are not aware of how the new skill or correction relates to previously learned skills. The teacher is responsible for communicating important relationships (especially similarities) between the movement patterns that make up the old and new skills.
During a golf lesson, the early learning phase begins when the teacher explains and demonstrates the new skill or correction to the student. Appropriate cues must be pointed out by the teacher because students do not know the relevant signals to focus attention during skill demonstrations. Also, students are unaware of how the new skill or correction relates to previously learned skills or modifications. Teachers should show how “old” learning can facilitate “new” knowledge.
Learning a golf skill begins well before practice starts, with a cognitive understanding of how to perform the skill. During the teacher’s communication of the new skill, the student tries to understand the goal of the craft, how to perform the talent, and how to generate the desired movements. This understanding enables the student to proceed to the next step and begin to develop (learn) a motor program that is suitable for controlling the movement execution of the skill. The actual cognitive-motor strategy of the talent has several different names, but for this lesson, it is called a motor program or plan. A motor program is a sequence of general instructions that a student’s nervous and muscular systems must carry out for the successful production of the movements that make up the skill.
During the early learning phase, when students try to perform the movement patterns that make up the new skill, they cognitively or actively think about how to complete it. They have to think about how to execute and control their movements consciously. This cognitive control of their movements takes much attention and mental effort. During the early phase, students can only concentrate on the performance of the skill and cannot attend to anything else. Their motor program is largely undeveloped, so they cannot execute the movements effectively. Many errors often occur in their initial attempts to perform the new skill during this phase because the new motor program contains many errors and is far from its final version. The energy students expend in movement execution and control is much higher than later in learning because the motor program is flawed, making it inefficient. (The motor program is ineffective; therefore, the movement is also ineffective.)
In an attempt to improve accuracy during their swing, a student may co-contract muscles around multiple joints to fix joint angles so they move in unison. The student does so to square up the clubface to hit the ball, resulting in stiff and robotic sewing. The shot outcomes from such cognitively executed swings are inaccurate, inconsistent, lack distance, and have undesired ball flight.
December 27, 2021
December 27, 2021