In this chapter we’re going to explore how motor learning theory explains human movement. It will give us the foundation for finding ways to speed up our motor responses.
It takes considerable effort and practice to make actions automatic. As many as 300 trials are needed for a simple task. Things such as shifting, looking in your mirrors, and checking gauges are examples. It is essential that these actions be made automatic, so they can happen without conscious intervention, which both slows the process and eats up the valuable resource of attention.
Our strategy here is to push as many actions into the inner loops as possible. We do this by first being aware of these stimuli. We then practice at every opportunity. Our next task is calming the conscious mind, and getting it out of the way. Lastly, we mentally rehearse all of this until it is absolutely ingrained. Because conscious processing is slow and very limited, our goal is to force all of the actions we possibly can into the unconscious processing.
There are two other methods to speed up processing that we need to discuss.
Basically, anticipation is a shortcut. We assume a stimulus will occur ahead of time and we begin the response selection and programming before the stimulus arrives, thereby greatly shortening the reaction time. Anticipation has both a spatial and timing element; we can anticipate where something will be and when it will happen. To use anticipation we must have some foreknowledge of what is going to occur. We gain this by careful study. Anticipation is almost exclusively used in conjunction with another person’s actions, such as a competitor, the starter, corner workers, or even that deer standing just off the edge of the track. We must therefore, study each individual and remember everything they do.
The last method for speeding up your actions is pre-programming. Some situations occur often enough and are similar enough that you can pre-program a response. An excellent example of this is the counter punch in boxing. Because the response is preprogrammed, the response selection and response programming components are shortened significantly. Once the recognized stimulus occurs, the response selection is immediately focused on one response and the program is already in place.
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© 2007 Doug Snyder of Force 5 Racing Team
Permission granted; "Driving Advantage"