The Learning Process
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Sports Memory Techniques

Coaching Athletes Involves Physical, mental, and Emotion Issues
The key to succeeding in any sport is the combination of effective communication skills of coaches and listening on the part of the athlete.

        In order to be a communicator, the speaker must understand the audience their interests:
  • Is this a willing audience or one that is forced to attend?

  • What is the temperature of the room?

  • Is the audience sitting or standing?

  • Will there be tables to allow comfortable note taking?

  • Is the audience a group of your peers?

  • Does the topic require note taking?

  • Will you distribute prepared handouts?

  • Is this topic inspirational/motivational?

  • If the topic presentation is longer than 50 minutes, will their be a rest room break and refreshments?

  • Will there be time for taking questions?

        In order to be a good listener, one must:
Paying Attention is the cardinal rule for good listening. Hear the words, and let their meaning in. If your mind wanders, simply re-focus your attention on the conversation.

Being Open Minded - If you show up with an agenda, you are not going to be available to fully hear what the other person is saying.

Clarification - You might be surprised at how much you are missing. Verify your understanding. If you are unclear, ask for clarification.

Focus on the speaker's body language - Does a person's body language, tone of voice, and rate of speaking confirm the truthfullness of the speaker. Do you sense there is a hidden adgenda beneath the spoken words?

Bored and distracted?  Reconnect to the speaker by maintaining eye contact, uncross your arms, and ask questions that take the conversation deeper.

Don't Interrupt!  Don't attempt to speak over someone who is talking. Be careful not to jump to conclusions or assume you know what the speaker is going to say and "complete their sentence!"

Don't prejudge the speaker's message. Don't allow your need to be right or your strong convictions on a topic preclude paying attention and listening to what other people have to say.

       Effective listening helps the development of empathy for understanding another's persons experience. Simple as paying attention can lead to insights and new opportunities.

The art of communication is a two-way process. The listener play role
in the communication process that is equal to the speaker's role. Real
communication is the connection that occurs when the speaker and
listener participate equally in the process.

Retaining what we have heard
Paying attention must be augmented by the retention of the information so it can be implemented when the opportunity arises. Retaining information involves short and long term storage (memory) that can be accessed through a retrival process.

       Memory retrieval is involved in every aspect of daily living. There are many factors associated with how memories are retrieved from long-term memory. There are four basic ways in which information is accessed from long-term memory.

       There are different agents of memory retrieval that can trigger the retrieval of long-term memory:
  • Recall: Ability to access the information without being cued.

  • Recollection: Reconstructing memory, often utilizing logical structures, partial memories, narratives or clues.

  • Recognition: Identifying information after experiencing it again.

  • Relearning: Involves relearning information that has been previously learned.

How do we improve our memory?
      For centuries different memory techniques have been used and currently still are in use.
Learning of ideas by association.

     These historic ways have been found to be insufficient unless used with modern memory training techniques.

Observation - people are able to retain short lists much easier than longer lists,
and that people tend to very quickly forgot what they learned.

     The method of loci technique was used by ancient orators to remember speeches. Itt combines the use of organization, visual memory, and association. Using this technique requires a commonality or familiarity.  For example, start with walking between two points. It is essential to have a vivid visual memory of the path being taken and the surrounding objects. Imagine walking or driving this route.

     Start identifing specific landmarks that are on both sides of the route. These landmarks are what you want to remember.  Mentally associate pieces of information that you want to remember with specific  landmarks. This list becomes an acronym of asociated information that is recalled through mnemonics.

     Practicing the technique of a *loci mnemonic will sharpen your skills. Consult the following references:

*The word 'loci', commonly pronounced as 'LOW sigh', comes from the Latin word meaning place or location. The Loci mnemonic system uses locations as memory aids.
This technique involves associating items that you have to remember with places that
are well known to you such as your house, neighborhood, or parts of your body.     
source - Skills Toolbox

      Sigmund Freud suggested that people forgot information if they were filled with negativity. People would purposely forget or “repressed” memories that were upsetting.

      The modern view is that different factors that effect brain and memory functions.  Researchers are searching for better techniques to effect memory by:
  • Improving attitude,
  • Changing sleep patterns,
  • Exercising both the mind and the body,
  • Positive environments,
  • Social interaction.
       Scientists have determined that poor or physical health is not conducive to memory training. They also have found that without strategies for the use of external memory aids these techniques will not produce the desired effect. A person's overall psychology can affect memory in positive and negative ways.

Cognitive training can help people become better athletes.
        Researchers have investigated mental training’s influence on a wide variety of sports and athletic pursuits. Scientists at the University of Calgary studied how training elements of visual attention could improve free-throw performance on the basketball court, and researchers at the University of Central Oklahoma looked into visual training’s ability to improve volleyball performance.

       There are dozens of studies devoted to cognitive training and sports performance that target everything from soccer and cricket to golf and tennis.

        Scientists have been studing how exercising on a treadmill at high rates* subsequent have a negative affect cognitive on functions. Research has demonstrated that the best time for learning new skills, particularly where verbal tuition forms part of the process, is when the athletes are in a well-rested state, not after high-intensity training sessions or competitions.

*The exercise group performed a 15-minute incremental treadmill run right up to the limit of their maximum oxygen uptake (i.e. to exhaustion).

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 repattern/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 robust representation of skills can be formed by chunking together several elements of a 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.


  • 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.

Association of physical muscle/nerve memory with mental conscious and unconscious actions

  • 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.

Stop and Think about Actions and Reactions

  • 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.

  • Overlearn.  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, spaced-out sessions.  These are particularly helpful when your sport is in its competitive season.  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.

Positive Mental Control

  • 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 Inputs Can Drastically Lower Performance:

Don't consume alcohol or take drugs not perscribed by a physican.

Don't skip breakfast - don't over consume sugar.  A high protein and high carbohydrate diet recommended. Food intake before and during compitions 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:

<>Creating Strategies: The Art of Listening Learn about the listener's role in the communication process.
<>Principles of Training Athletes
<> Developing Course Materials
<> Sports Vision Tests and Training - Hand-eye coordination and other tests; How testing aids sports vision training; Visual memory game. Sports vision tests and training help athletes.
What is Muscle Memory? Sept. 25, 2012 ... Muscle memory is a type of movement that muscles gradually become familiar with. ... This is extremely important in different types of training for sports.

AANS - Concussion A concussion can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and muscle coordination.

Serious Effects of Mild Concussions - Sports Medicine -   Mild concussions and other head injuries can have serious long-term effects ... Signs of a mild concussion include confusion, disorientation and memory loss.

Teens More Vulnerable To Lingering Effects Of Concussion   April 3, 2012 ... Teenage athletes are more vulnerable to the lingering effect of concussion on short-term memory than younger athletes and adults.

PDF  Memory for Discourse: Loci Mnemonics and the Oral ... the memorizing isolated items is widely known. whereas ... For one failure to produce superior performance by a loci mnemonic.

Loci System | Mnemonic Systems   The word 'loci', commonly pronounced as 'LOW sigh', comes from the Latin word meaning place or location. The Loci mnemonic system is based on using familiar locations.


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.

Articles On How To Improve Memory, Concentration, Study Skills, Memory Training And Memory Techniques

The Learning 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 for Athletes:

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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