Outreach posts

Publicly-funded research belongs in the public domain and it is our duty to make our research understandable. Here you will find posts that try to explain our research in a way that is user friendly. Many of the students in the lab will have written these posts and often these students have been directly involved in this research. It is our aim over the next few years to grow this site to provide summaries of all our newly published research. Please add your own comments and get involved with the discussion. And feel free to email us to let us know what you think or would like to see included here.


Press pause for a reality check: Imagining performing motor skills tempers overconfidence from just watching.

It shouldn’t be surprising that to learn a new motor skill (a golf swing, perhaps?), that watching someone perform it a few times is a good place to start. However, our research here suggests that it might be worth taking a moment to imagine yourself performing the golf swing too, after watching, to give yourself a realistic notion of your present abilities. This‘pause and imagine’ step is important because just after (repeated) watching, you would be tempted to think your ability to perform a golf swing is better than it actually is. Imagining...

Optimal challenge zones for improving long term learning

There are a few podcasts/interviews related to this paper on the challenge-point framework, which help provide a knowledge translation component to the work.Hodges, N. J., & Lohse, K. R. (2022). An extended challenge-based framework for practice design in sports coaching. Journal of Sports Sciences, 40(7), 754-768.<see also preprint version under publications>PODCASTS:Jan 2023: The Sport Doctor podcast with James Barkley (Australia). https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/professor-nicola-hodges-using-a-challenge-based/id1583582295?i=1000597641451Aug...

Skill Acquisition; Myths, action points and the future

There are a few audio resources based on a paper Mark Williams and I published in 2023 in the Journal of Sports Sciences. See publications for copy of article which is also open acccess:Williams, A. M., & Hodges, N. J. (2023). Effective practice and instruction: A skill acquisition framework for excellence. Journal of Sports Sciences, 41(9), 833-849.PRINT/ONLINE:October 27th 2023: Alex Hutchinson for Outsideonline.com. “How to Train for Long-Term Success: The new science of skill acquisition can help coaches and athletes get more out of their workouts...

FIFA "training centre" video and interview on Deliberate Practice

#Science explainedNicola Hodges on deliberate practice; Professor Nicola Hodges, 04 May 2023"Not all forms of practice are created equal. In this session, Professor Nicola Hodges explains how we distinguish "deliberate" practice from other forms of training, and why this deliberate practice is so important for player development. "https://www.fifatrainingcentre.com/en/...

Virtual reality is not just good for games and movies, it can aid rehabilitation by making errors seem larger (and easier to correct)

Motor rehabilitation programs that are based on low-cost, commercial gaming devices can be effective in improving upper-limb function. One of the reasons is increased rehabilitation time due to the added enjoyment of gaming whilst exercising. Now with Immersive virtual reality (VR) technology, home-based motor rehabilitation programs have the potential to become even more useful as they can be used to mimic real life environments and thus make it easier to transfer skills to every-day life. Immersive VR allows for the manipulation of sensory information to...

Limits to learning by observing: when learning by doing leads to differences in brain activity and behaviours in comparison to observation only

ImagePractitioners often use “learning by observation” when teaching new skills; however, there is limited research on how the brain - behavioural responses compare with “learning by doing”. We compared the brain responses when performing and watching a novel joystick-tracing task in three groups: a physical practice group, an observational practice group and a group that had no practice. We...

Relations between skill assessments of youth players, practice & play, and success in men's soccer

Academy, male youth soccer players were evaluated at different time points by coaches and rated in terms of technical, tactical, physical and creative skill. These players also provided estimates of hours accumulated in soccer activities that were either coach-led (practice) or self-led (what we term play). Coaches assessment of players at ~14 years was related to whether they would be offered youth professional contracts (at age 16 yr), but not adult contracts at age 19 yr. Future professional players (youth and adult), were rated higher by coaches for all...

Peer-guided practice of motor skills

If you were asked to organize a partner’s practice, how would you choose to do it? Would you use the same strategies you would use for yourself? In this study, we wanted to explore how people organize practice for a partner of equal (low) skill and compare this to how they choose to organize practice for themselves. Participants practiced 3 different tasks (involving timed sequences on a keypad). Some individuals chose for themselves which task to practice at the start of each trial (i.e., they were in control of the order of trials) or they were told which task...

Is being good at practice a transferable skill?

ImageHas it ever seemed like experts in one domain more easily become skilled in another? In this study, we were interested in whether having expertise in a specific domain – and the vast practice experience that comes with it – influences how experts choose to practice when learning new skills outside their area of expertise. The question of how to structure practice in order...

Anticipating with our bodies

You're watching someone shoot on goal, but you can't see the final outcome. Can you predict what will happen next, and if you can, how are you able to do this? In a couple of studies, we've tested the idea that the way you solve this problem is by drawing on your own "motor memories". When people have had physical experience throwing a dart for example, if they now watch someone else throw a dart, they can "understand" that action by activating their own motor system and use their experience to arrive at a decision. Although experts and people with physical...

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