When players are faced with consistent task demands during training, for example the ball being presented in the same spot at the same pace in a batting drill, they are practicing a stable movement pattern. Once learnt, such stable movement patterns are easily retrieved but don’t necessarily equip the player to meet the variable demands of a ball being delivered on different lines and lengths. Unstable task demands in training, such as the ball landing in random places at variable speeds, challenge the batsman to find novel solutions and encourages the development of new neural pathways.
The creation of instability is an important part of learning, sometimes referred to by coaches as ‘challenge’ or ‘overloading the system’. This form of learning extends the player beyond their comfort zone, so it can feel awkward and frustrating. Caution must be exercised when deciding when and for how long players should be exposed to this instability as it can impact upon levels of confidence.
Coaches should often attempt to stretch players just above what they can comfortably do, but always accompany this approach with support. It is also important to note that ‘overloading’ too close to competition may impede a player’s clarity of thought and have a negative impact on performance.
ECB Level 3 - Skill Acquisition Session, delivered by Carl Crowe