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Stop Thinking About Technique

Did you know that the more you think about performing a skill, the more likely you are to choke under pressure? Wow that’s crazy eh.

For many decades we as coaches have encouraged athletes to consciously think about performing technical movements. We have become adept at breaking skills down into all the biomechanical components to explain how movement works (maybe to justify our job?). We get them to think about the movements they make. “Put your elbow here, point your fingers here, suck in your core’ etc… although this has now been proven ineffective in performance. In fact it slows us down! And athletes that don’t have to think about technique, perform it far better.

And this makes sense when you really step back from it. If you watch a baby learn to walk, you’ll notice that they are learning by trial and error. They don’t have a coach, breaking down the movements patterns into 63 coaching points (thank goodness babies generally can't talk at this age). They just work it out. And this is the same for you in many skills. You shuffle cards, use a knife and fork, write with a pen, talk, eat - all without consciously thinking about it. You can do it implicitly. And yes you may have been taught some of these skills, but highly unlikely through explicit means. Just test what happens when you consciously think about your movements, whilst performing these skills (be careful not to choke on your food).

So what does this mean for coaches? Set up the practice environment that helps athletes practice skills implicitly (without having to think about it).

  • Use Constraints

  • Use Games

  • Focus athletes on external cues / outcomes

Refer to the work of Rich Masters for more detail. Check this link out


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