Learning A New Sport Skill Is Just Trial And Error For Your Brain

Posted on November 9, 2015

Photo source: Flickr

Just about every coach and parent, not to mention most young athletes, have heard the vague but obvious phrase, “practice makes perfect.”

In most cases, repeating a motor skill over and over in slightly different environments and conditions will improve the success rate. If not, we would all still struggle with tying our shoes or riding a bike.

But what is it about practice that helps our brains figure out the specific task while also generalizing enough to transfer the skill to different scenarios? Kicking a football through the uprights of a goal post is slightly different than kicking a soccer ball into a goal but we didn’t have to completely relearn the kicking task when switching between the two sports. Researchers at McGill University took another step forward in understanding how the trial and error of practice teaches our brain to perform these complex sports skills.

At the center of any skilled movement is the cerebellum, the fist-shaped add-on structure at the rear base of our brain, that communicates with input coming in from our arms, legs and our senses through the central nervous system. While it doesn’t initiate movement, it is the control center that manages the constant slight adjustments between what your muscles did and what your senses are telling you about how well it worked.

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Category(s):Child Development

Source material from Sports Are 80 Percent Mental


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