Modifying technique in closed self-paced motor tasks

MSL research field: 
Skill acquisition
TitleModifying technique in closed self-paced motor tasks
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsVecchione, J, Madill, C, Hodges, NJ
Book TitleRitual Behavior in Sport: The Psychology of Closed Self-Paced Motor Tasks – to Routledge
PublisherRoutledge (Taylor Francis)

Technique change is foundational to the ongoing process of movement skill acquisition in domains such as sports, the military, or clinical environments. Consider the situation of an athlete who is experiencing discomfort from a rather unusual type of golf swing, or a swimmer who is consistently within the top 50 of her sport, but cannot seem to break into the top echelon because of inefficient mechanics of her turn and kick. These examples epitomize situations in sports where a change in technique is needed. Technique itself refers to the movement of body segments and their position and orientation, as they change during a motor task to enable effective performance (Lees, 2002). Although generally “better” technique will result in improved performance, the relationship between technique and performance is complex, dependent on many factors including the sport, the athlete, and the technique (Lees, 2002). Despite the prevalence of situations in sports where a change in technique is needed, there is a dire lack of empirical evidence concerning the relative effectiveness of technique change methods. Moreover, there is a lack of detailed understanding as to potential methods which can be used to change technique and importantly the characteristics and mechanisms which might be driving their effectiveness. Our aims in this chapter are to: 1) provide some definitional clarity regarding technique change; 2) detail various methods which have been studied in relation to technique change as well as evaluate associated empirical evidence; 3) determine common approaches and potential mechanisms across methods and; 4) make recommendations regarding research and application based on current knowledge.