Below are some general guidelines on motor skill learning and performance. These factors are relevant when learning any new complex motor pattern, and are incidently the cornerstone of neurorehabilitation.
1. OBSERVATIONAL PRACTICE:
Observation of others, particularly when it is combined with physical practice, can make important contributions to learning. This includes dyad practice (i.e. practice in pairs), where the novice practitioner can observe the experienced practitioners technique, can enhance learning and embedding correct technique.
2. FOCUS OF ATTENTION:
Studies examining the role of the performer’s focus of attention have consistently demonstrated that instructions inducing an external focus (directed at the movement effect) are more effective than those promoting an internal focus (directed at the performer’s body movements). An external focus facilitates automaticity in motor control and promotes movement efficiency.
A mindful yoga practice however is aimed at deconstructing and analysing the reflexive automation of movement. The mention of internal focus instructions of the practitioners’ body may act to increase self-consciousness, or self-focus, which in turn may lead to self-evaluation and activate implicit or explicit self-regulatory processes. Therefore, both internal or external focus cues may be appropriate depending on individual context.
3. INSTRUCTOR FEEDBACK:
Feedback not only has an informational function, but also has motivational properties that have an important influence on learning. For example, feedback after successful trials and social-comparative (normative) feedback indicating better than average performance have been shown to have a beneficial effect on learning.
4. SELF-CONTROLLED PRACTICE:
Self-controlled practice, including feedback and model demonstrations controlled by the learner, has been found to be more effective than externally controlled practice conditions.
Giving students some autonomy in deciding, for example, what postures to practise and or when to receive feedback, would be expected to benefit the learning process because of its advantageous effects on information processing
One of the most robust variables that affect motor learning is the necessity for repetitive practice. In general, increased practice leads to increased learning. One the most powerful way we can enhance skill acquisition would appear to be increasing the amount of practice, while being mindful of the above integrative practice strategies.
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