GAINcast Episode 272: Beyond dichotomies (with Kevin Becker)

We live in the age of polarization. We get into long debates about whether things are black or white, but when it comes to topics like training and motor learning, the reality is often a shade of grey. Professor Kevin Becker is looking to create a conversation beyond dichotomies. On this week’s GAINcast he shares some ideas around motor learning and attentional focus that attempt to color in the areas in between.

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Kevin Becker is an Associate Professor of Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior at the University of Tennessee. In a former life he set the NCAA Division III record in the weight throw, competed at the 2008 and 2012 US Olympic Trials, and continued as a world-ranked Highland Games athlete.

Related resources

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:

Key quotes and topics

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:45 – Beyond the false dichotomies: “Why are we obsessed with putting things into one box or another? It’s: you need to be this or that. But human behavior is complex and it’s really difficult to fit it in two boxes for everybody.”
  • 7:30 – Principles of motor learning vs. S&C: “If we agree that people are dynamic changing organisms and that nothing is a constant, then our instruction shouldn’t be a constant either.”
  • 10:30 – Motor learning differences between developing and proficient athletes
  • 13:30 – Making drastic changes: “Is the change worth making? What’s the potential upside? And what are the both short-term and long-term costs if I think I need to make that change?”
  • 21:00 – Drills.
  • 24:15 – Holistic focus: “Holistic focus, unlike intrinsic or extrinsic, relates to the general feeling or the sensations that arise from doing your task.”
  • 29:00 – Understanding the athlete’s feeling: “So when we look at intrinsic or extrinsic focus, there’s a lot that falls outside of that . . . less than half of the things that athletes tell us fit in either of those boxes that we’ve created.”
  • 31:30 – Athlete ownership and finding flow.

Complete transcript

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