Psychomotor Development And Learning

Understanding the three stages of psychomotor development will help the frustrated athlete understand their development as an athlete.

Whenever learning new athletic movements there is a level of frustration that hinders growth. This is natural. A good athletic instructor sets goals, encourages practice, gives positive feedback, and provides motivation. They also help the student understand the different stages of psycho-motor development making it easier and less frustrating for an individual to learn. There are three stages that an individual progresses through when learning psycho-motor skills, they are the cognitive, the associative, and the autonomic.

The beginning stage is called the cognitive. The cognitive is marked by awkward, slow movements, that the learner is consciously trying to control. The person has to think before doing the movement. Performance is generally poor, and the person makes many errors in these slow, choppy, movements. The frustration level is high, but diligent practice allows the person to move onto the next stage of psycho-motor development.

The second stage of psychomotor development is called the associative stage. In the associative stage, one spends less time thinking about every detail and begins to associate the movement one is learning with another movement already known. This is the middle stage of psychomotor development. The movements are not yet a permanent part of the brain. They are not automatic. Movements do not become a permanent part of the brain until they are performed ten thousand times. A person in this stage must think about every movement. However, unlike the cognitive stage, the movements begin to look smoother and the student feel less awkward.

The final stage of psychomotor development in the autonomous stage. The autonomous stage is reached when learning is almost complete, although an individual can continue to refine the skill through practice. This stage is called autonomous because the learner no longer needs to depend on the instructor for all feedback about performance. The learner has practiced the movement ten-thousand or nearly ten-thousand times. This is the stage where movements become spontaneous. The learner no longer has to think about the movement. The mind and body become one. This is also a very dangerous stage in athletic training. There is a tendency at times to sleep walk through the movements. By sleepwalk, I mean allow the mind to wander. In spite of the fact the mind and body have become one, a learner must still concentrate on what they are doing. It is not good to think about the previous evening's date, while practicing!

Understanding the various psychomotor stages makes it easier to learn. If we recognize the natural process in the development of athletic skills, we can easily accept the frustration we feel when first learning. It is important that a teacher explain the stages of psycho-motor development in order to motivate them properly. If you use this quick acronym to remember the four elements that enhance the learning process, M.A.R.S.""Motivation, Association, Repetition, and the use of the Senses, students will learn more effectively, and move through the stages of psycho-motor development with ease, and comfort, not frustration, and aggravation

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