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Englishbey Hitting @SteveEnglishbey
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I just saw this quote:" Good research supporting "implicit" rather than "explicit" learning" The implication being that "implicit" learning is ALWAYS better than "explicit" learning. Based on numerous research studies,and my own teaching experience,this is untrue.
Here's a superficial definition of "implicit" learning: " Implicit learning–laxly defined as learning without awareness"......
Most hitters that I work with have developed inefficient/flawed movement largely derived by ...."learning without awareness."
Meaning that they utilized largely unconscious processes [implicit strategies] to develop relatively FLAWED movements [flawed relative to what I would define as high level movement/movement patterns].
I should add here a basic aspect of "how the body works." The body is complex in that it can create literally an infinite number of muscle/joint actions that can combine to create dynamic movement.
With this understanding in mind, the question as regards something like developing a very good swing is: "How does one go about choosing , so to speak, what is an optimal manner to combine muscle and joint actions?" [This is the Bernstein question actually].
In the context of non-elite hitters, it is typical that almost all of these hitters---using implicit learning strategies----have "chosen" less than optimal kinds of movements/movement patterns.
This is the case, in large part because of the "Bernstein question"--who was ,in effect asking:"How does one choose correctly when there are MANY ways to move?"
In the context of developing a high level swing,my observation and experience as a teacher is this: MOST hitters who are largely utilizing implicit processes ARE NOT going to figure out how to "solve the problem" as to how to "choose"correctly, so to speak.
They need help. My job as an instructor is to go about facilitating ways to "solve the problem." This almost ALWAYS entails relatively SPECIFIC and EXPLICIT kinds of information.
It many times, HAS to be relatively specific and explicit because development in part is about becoming more AWARE of your flaws. Simply put, in order to advance,you first need to become more aware as to how and why you are going wrong.
I forget the author's name [ a well known motor learning researcher] who talked about the typical stages of motor learning [he listed 4 stages] The first stage was "blissful ignorance", and the second stage was "awkward self-awareness."
These 2 stages are certainly operative in hitters that I am working with; hitters that do have flaws --flaws that they typically have VERY little awareness of what their underlying actually are.They are indeed "blissfully ignorant" of their flawed movements.
My job as an instructor is to go about explaining to them as to what these flaws actually are. The explanations almost always entail relatively specific and explicit kinds of information. Simply put, as a first step, I need to get them beyond "blissful ignorance"!
The next step is to start the process of RE-learning how to more effectively utilize the body to swing more efficiently and effectively. And a big part of this RE-learning is finding effective ways [drills,etc.,] to,in effect, "disrupt" the hitters' habituated flaws.
You disrupt the habituated flaws by finding ways to variously "constrain" the movement flaws. In trying to really impede/prevent movement flaws that are habituated and thus seem "correct"because they "feel"good, the hitter will experience an "awkward self-awareness."
The kinds of methods I am using in this process of going thru these 2 phases, necessarily involves specific, explicit, and various kinds of "internal focus." But. It will ALSO INCLUDE methods that may not be as specific/explicit and will include aspects of "external focus."
Thus,as I said at the outset, I think the notion that implicit methods [and related to this is "external focus] are ALWAYS more effective is incorrect. Moreover,the notion that learning is an either/or proposition [implicit VS. explicit] is a false dichotomy.
Simply put,most things that we learn typically involves some degree of interaction between implicit and explicit processes. And I think this is especially true as regards many who have reached a high degree of mastery of the subject matter.
So,to reiterate,from my vantage point, helping hitters RE-learn how to swing via changing habituated flaws,is something that requires both implicit and explicit methods [And methods/instruction that utilizes aspects of internal and external focus].
Matthew Polites
@PLite3 writes:" Recently, I think the pendulum has swung way too far in the direction of external cues." I agree with this and this is certainly one reason I started this thread. I think this is the case due to a misinterpretation of research by Wulf, et. al.
By "misinterpretation" I mean that the alleged efficaciousness of external cues compared to internal cues is based on an assessment of an athletes CURRENT technique, functional capability,etc.
The problem with this,of course ,is that almost all hitters I work with are NOT creating high level movement movement patterns,i.e., their current technique,functional capability, etc., is LESS than optimal. It is flawed in some manner.
So. When the assertion is made that internal cues/frames of reference can be detrimental to an athletes' CURRENT performance/technique,etc., I'm more inclined to say ..."so what" , or "GOOD!"
Because, from my vantage point,and as I stated before, in order to develop better movement, technique, etc., the athlete typically NEEDS to be made aware of how they compare to the "high standard."
The typical first step in developing this understanding is by EXPLICIT awareness of the hitter's flaws ---flaws that most are not aware of ["blissful ignorance"]. Making hitters more aware of these flaws can be derived in numerous ways.
My experience strongly suggests that greater awareness is best facilitated via internal focus. The focus is on the body posture and/or aspects of the kinds of joint actions that underlie the hitters' CURRENT functionality.And the focus is almost always relatively specific.
Could this kind of internal focus --done so for the purpose of helping the hitter become more aware of their flaws and helping them get beyond their current state of "blissful ignorance----could this focus act to "disrupt" their current capabilities, technique, etc?
And could this kind of focus then cause a decline in their CURRENT stare of performance?

OF COURSE----this is precisely what NEEDS to happen!! As I stated before, the first stages of RE-learning how to swing for many are "blissful ignorance" and "awkward self-awareness."
[When working with hitters, this potential decline in performance [GAME performance] is addressed by me in saying along the lines of: "Do NOT try to implement any of this into game swings right now; with enough focused practice you will evolve into better movement"}.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to help the hitter develop a much more "refined" kinesthetic awareness as to what they are ACTUALLY doing relative to what they actually NEED to do to create a high level swing.
And in the context of most hitters I work with, creating types of internal focus can be and typically IS a very effective approach to helping hitters, to in effect, RE-learn how to more optimally utilize bat and body to swing the bat.
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