There are three types of practice (Blocked, Variable and Random). In this blog I am going talk about only the Blocked and Random Practices. There is an old question in sport for coaches is what practice structure can be the best results to use in training session to enable learning have a great effect on the participants leaning? this I think motor learning comes into help participants to perform a skill from which practice. (Magill, 2007) says about motor learning “A relatively permanent change in the capability of a person to perform a skill as a result of practice.” and also which practice is the best one to use for my coaching?
Blocked practice is when you do a same task or technique all over again and repeat it, for example in baseball, a player doing a 45 pitches in a block pattern which involves 15 curve-balls, 15 fast-balls and 15 change-ups. the player will know what he needs to do and people say practice makes perfect. Golden Hawks Curling says about the blocked practice “Blocked Practice refers to practice where one skill is worked on at a time. This skill is worked on until a predetermined level of competence is acquired, and then the coach and athlete move on to the next skill. One skill may be worked on for several practices before moving on.” coach wait for a skill to be at a high level for the athlete and they decide when to change it to a different skill in a sport. I think blocked practice is useful for athlete development of some skills, yet it does offer a high level of performance that gives players and coaches a false sense of accomplishment but it does produce a effective performance during the early stages by athlete just joining a sport and needs to catch up. why do coaches use Block Practices? I think they use it because it makes the athlete think they getting better quickly by practicing the same skill all over and over again, for example in Golf, you can make the player do the same shot all over again in the same place and he think he’s doing okay because the ball is going straight and finding the fair-away but in the game it will be completely different because it will be on a different surface and i does the same technique and it doesn’t go fair and he be back to the starting point again.
Random Practice is that you can do multiple skills incorporated into the same session and it will also help the learner continuously adapts movement pattern from trail to trail. for example in baseball, a player doing a 45 pitches in a random pattern which involves in different hits in the same session by doing curve, fast-ball, fast-ball, change-up, curve, curve, fast-ball, etc. Golden Hawks Curling says about the Random practice is “Random Practice refers to practice sessions where multiple skills are incorporated into the same practice session. A predetermined level of competence is not required before moving on to the next skill.” for example in football, they could involve in one session using players ability to control ball, followed by passing, then heading the ball and finally specific plays like attacking or defending plays. Random practice leads to better transfer and learning but it can look messy and the performers performance may dip because it doesn’t look like they improving. this is where the coach’s come into play by motivating there participants by saying you be a better player in the long term. “Random practice seems particularly appropriate for batting practice. The decision-making process when one is at the plate in a game includes identifying the type of pitch before applying the appropriate motor response. In random practice the learner does this processing repeatedly. The concept of transfer of appropriate processing emphasizes that the value of any practice condition can only be considered in the context of the transfer test used to evaluate learning.” (Lee, 1988). this will have a benefit using random practice is that gives the learner more meaningful and distinguishable memories of the various tasks, increasing memory strength and decreasing confusion among tasks.
The image is a typical example of the type of practice is that you start with blocked practice to improve a skill quickly when you developing and when you get to elite level and 100% you may move in random practice by mixing skills into a game based. for the players to get used to a game environment and improve on. Human kinetics says that the beneficial effects of random practice over blocked practice is “Random practice forces the learner to become more actively engaged in the learning process by preventing simple repetitions of actions and Random practice causes the learner to forget the short-term solutions (from working memory) to the movement problem after each task change.”
My experience of a Random Practice at West View Leisure Centre when i am coaching is that we know that all participants have good abilities to play football and we know their ages so we can plan a game session based on their development and also we making sure they use all the football skills in the game (passing, shooting and dribbling).
Magill, R. A. (2007) Motor Learning and Control. Concept and application. (8th ed.) New York: Mcgraw-Hill.
LEE, T. D. (1988) Transfer-appropriate processing: a framework for conceptualizing practice effects in motor learning. In 0. G. Meijer & K. Roth (Eds.), Complex movement behavior: the motor-action controversy. Amsterdam: North-Houand. Pp. 201-215.
Hawks Curling (2015). Blocked and Random Practice. [Online] Available at: <http://hawkscurlinghpc.ca/2012/02/blocked-distributed-and-random-practice-as-it-relates-to-skill-acquisition-in-curling/> [Accessed 5th February]
Human kinetics. (2016). Blocked and Random Practice. [Online] Available at: <http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/research-illuminates-the-benefits-of-random-practice-over-blocked-practice-in-motor-learning> [Accessed 4th February]