The Learning Process
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Sports Memory Techniques

Acquiring knowledge/advanced physical skills requires short to long term memory conversion
      Skill learning techniques can accelerate the acquisition and retention process of acquiring memory and motor skills. There are a number of steps you can take to improve your memory and retrieval capacity.

      Principles for learning motor skills are based on psychology principles that are applied to learning physical movements of all sports.

      The following techniques can facilitate sport skill memory and retention:

  • Ideally every learner should acquire skills correctly the first time.  Coaches should monitor and guide athletes as much as possible in the early stages of learning. A skill learned incorrectly is often difficult to delete and then retrain.
  • Skills that have specific rhythms are easier to learn and rhythmic recall than isolated movements.
  • Chunking movements.  It is well known that such sequential skills involve chaining a number of primitive actions together. A positive representation of skills can be formed by chunking together several elements in a logical sequence. Coaches can use this concept to express concepts that are easy to learn and recall as “chunks” that are a compressed representation of a complex concept.
  • Provide a reason to acquire the skill.  Explain and demonstrate new skills so that the athlete understands what the skill requires and why it is executed that way. Also make clear how the skill will enhance their performance.
  • Associate new skills and concepts with previous acquired skills.  Skaters will learn new skills quickly if the essential body component is based on a skill they understand.
  • Establish specific cues that help focus the athlete's attention.   A cue alerts the skater and trigger associated aspects of a specific learned skill.
  • Over learning is a necessary part of the process of undoing, followed by relearning the correct technique.   Over training means practicing skills beyond what was first necessary to learn them. It is an effective approach when incorrect movement patterns are deeply ingrained.
The following are excerpts from Becoming a Master Student Athlete,
Dave Ellis 
Published: 2006. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

        The techniques below can help you to develop a flexible, customized memory system that is suitable for your learning style and the skills required in your sport.  The techniques are divided into four categories, each which represents a general principle for improving memory.

Organize It

  • Be selective.  The challenge is to selecting what to remember.  Make choices about what is most important to learn.  Imagine that you are going to create a test on the material and consider the questions you would ask. 
  • Make it meaningful.  Begin the learning process by starting from the general and narrow your focus to the specific.  Even random ideas - care be organized in a way to make them easier to remember. 
  • Create associations.  The encoded data in your neural networks is arranged according to a scheme that makes sense to you.  The introduction of new data can be more effectively accomplished if you associate the new with similar or related data that you already know something about.

Use Your Body 

  • Learn it once, actively.  Remembering an idea requires going beyond just thinking about it.  Do something with it.  Physical action is a great memory enhancer.  The same energy, determination, and single mindedness that you use for academics should be applied to pursuing a competitive sport. Learning takes energy.  When you learn effectively, you are burning calories when you are sitting at a desk reading a textbook or running an under 4 minute mile.
  • Relax.  When you're relaxed, you absorb new information quickly and recall it with greater ease and accuracy.  Students who can't recall information under stress of a final exam can often recite the same facts later when they are relaxed. Relaxation is a state of alertness, free of tension, during which your mind can play with new information and apply memory techniques.
  • Create mental pictures.  The key is the use your imagination. Use images to connect facts and illustrate relationships.  Associations within and among abstract concepts that can be "seen" are much easier to recall when they are visualized. 
  • Recite and repeat.  When you repeat something out loud, you anchor the concept in two different senses.  First, you get physical sensation in your throat, tongue, and lips when voicing the concept.  Second, you hear it.  The combined result is synergistic, just as it is when you create pictures.  That is, the effect of using two different senses is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
  • Write it down.  This technique is obvious, yet easy to forget.  Writing a note to yourself helps you remember an idea, even if you never look at the note again. Writing engages a different kind of memory than speaking.  A written paper can reveal gaps in knowledge that would be apparent in an oral review would. The converse is also true as oral reviews can reveal gaps that may be missed in a written review.

Use Your Brain

  • Engage your emotions.  One powerful way to enhance your memory is to make friends with your amygdala -  the area of your brain that lights up with extra neural activity each time you feel a strong emotion.  When a topic excites love, laughter, or fear, the amygdala sends a flurry of chemical messages that say, in effect: This information is important and useful.  Don't forget it.

You're more likely to remember an idea or concept if you relate it to a goal you feel strongly about. The more goals you have and the more clearly they are defined, the more channels you create for incoming information.

  • Over Learning.  One way to fight mental fuzziness is to learn more than you need to know about a subject simply to pass a test.  You can pick a subject apart, examine it, add to it, and go over it until it becomes second nature.
  • Escape the short-term memory trap.  Short-term memory is different from the kind of memory you'll need during exam week.  For example, most of us can look at an unfamiliar seven digit phone number once and remember it long enough to dial it.  See if you can recall the number the next day.

A short review within minutes or hours of a study session can move material from short-term memory into long-term memory.

  • Use your times of peak energy.  Study your most difficult subjects during the times when your energy peaks.  Many people can concentrate more effectively during daylight hours.  The early morning hours can be especially productive, even for those who hate to get up with the sun.  Observe the peaks and valleys in your energy flow during the day and adjust study times accordingly.
  • Distribute learning.  As an alternative to marathon study sessions, experiment with shorter, sessions that are spaced out over days/weeks.  These are particularly helpful when your activity is the middle to concluding test to knowledge/skills. You might find that you can get far more done in three two-hour sessions than in one six-hour session.
  • Be aware of attitudes.  If you think a subject is boring, remind yourself that everything is related to everything else.  Look for connections that relate to your own interests.
  • Give your "secret brain" a chance.  Sometimes the way you combine studying with other activities can affect how well you remember information.  The trick is to avoid what psychologists call retroactive inhibition, something that happens when a new or unrelated activity interferes with previous learning.
  • Combine techniques.  All of these memory techniques can work even better in combination.  Choose two or three techniques to use on a particular assignment and experiment for yourself.  For example, after you take a few minutes to get an overview of a reading assignment, you could draw a quick picture or diagram to represent the main point.  Or you could over learn a chemistry equation by singing a jingle about it all the way to work.

Recall It

  • Remember something else.  When you are stuck and can't remember something that you're sure you know, remember something else that is related to it.
  • Notice when you do remember.  To develop your memory, notice when you recall information easily and ask yourself what memory techniques you're using naturally.  Also, notice when it's difficult to recall information and adjust your learning techniques.  And remember to congratulate yourself when you remember.
  • Use it before you lose it.  To remember something, access it a lot.  Read it, write it, speak it, listen to it, apply it - find some way to make contact with the material regularly.  Each time you do so, you widen the neural pathway to the material and make it easier to recall the next time.
  • Adopt the attitude that you never forget.  You might not believe that an idea or a thought never leaves your memory.  That's OK.  In fact, it doesn't matter whether you agree with the idea or not.  It can work for you anyway.    
External Sources of lower performance:

Don't consume alcohol or take drugs not prescribed by a physician.

Don't skip breakfast - don't over consume sugar.  A high protein and high carbohydrate diet recommended. Food intake before and during competitions can significantly affects an athlete's performance. In particular, nutrition impacts player’s psychological state, alertness, memory recall, and overall physical, mental, and emotional performance.

Recommended Reading List:

Principles of Training Athletes

Developing Course Materials


Memory Techniques: Improve Your Memory and Enhance Your Performance Learn how to improve your memory ...  also encompasses martial arts, dancing, acting and sports.

Memory Techniques - Stonehill College   These are particularly helpful when your sport is in its competitive season. ... Combine techniques. All of these memory techniques can work,

Mind and Memory, memory techniques, memory improvement, how to increase your memory

What is Muscle Memory?   This is extremely important in different types of training for sports. ... Repetitions of gross motor skills are needed for 'muscle memory' to 'take place'.

Important Vision Skills for Sports   Important Vision Skills for Sports. Vision, just like speed and  strength, ... This is called visual memory.

Chunking Patterns Reflect Effector-dependent Representation of coordinates   Patterns of chunking with the keypad-hand conditions that retain the effector (finger) movements.

Gravity Lesson Plan Grades 6-8  Air resistance provides a counterforce to gravity as a skydiver falls out of an airplane. ... Understanding motion and the principles that explain it.

The Physics of Kayak Stroking   June 10, 2001. Though Newton's Laws explain the basic concept of how a kayaker is able to propel himself forward, there is a lot more going on. Including torque. Torque is the reason why the kayak swings in the opposite direction of each stroke. If a stroke is done on the right side, the kayak rotates counter-clockwise, but if the stroke is done on the left, the kayak rotates clockwise. This is because that while a stroke is taking place the paddle acts as a lever arm for the vessel.

The Museum of Unworkable Devices Physics Gallery   Unfortunately the assumed physical principles are not always obeyed by .... torque on the system, and that will produce counter-clock -wise motion.

Skill Development Environment:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/ associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Mental Training:

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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