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Proof of Concept

Coaching Science Award
Sports Coaching Protocols published research
Sports Coaching Protocols user feedback
Habit pattern demonstration
The transfer of learning/training problem
Old Way/New Way learning
South Australian Sports Institute (SASI)

Coaching Science Award

A published Old Way/New Way® sports coaching research study on technique correction with Olympic athletes won second prize in the 4th European Athletics Association Science Awards, out of a record entry of 28 projects from 13 European countries.

The winning project "Rapid Technique Correction Using Old Way/New Way®: Two case studies with Olympic athletes" by Y. L. Hanin, T. Korjus, P. Jouste and P. Baxter was selected by a Jury chaired by EAA Vice President Agoston Schulek. The other members of the Jury were Dr Peter Tschiene (GER), Dr Jitka Vindušková (CZE) and Mr Peter Thompson (GBR).

According to the Jury, "This project has a high applicability and clear implications for the coaching of techniques and for coach education."

The Jury's selection criteria were:

  • scientific rigour and quality, and
  • practical application to coaching and/or teaching athletics.

The EAA Science Awards were initiated in 1998 and are given every second year.

Summary of this Award Winning Project

This study examined the effectiveness of 'old way/new way', an innovative meta-cognitive learning strategy [developed in education settings] (Lyndon, E.H. 1989, 2000) in the rapid and permanent correction of established technique difficulties experienced by Olympic athletes. Two case studies were presented which indicated that extraordinary progress could be made in skill correction in a very short time scale, provided that the interventions were carried out by an individual skilled in the techniques of this learning strategy.

The two Olympic athletes who participated in this study received individualised interventions including video assisted error analysis, step-wise enhancement of kinaesthetic awareness, re-activation of the error memory, discrimination and generalisation of the correct movement pattern. Self-reports, ratings by the coach and video recordings were used as measures for technique improvement. A single learning trial produced immediate and permanent technique improvement, with an 80% or higher correct action in training and competition. This indicated a full transfer of learning without the need for the customary adaptation.

The summary proposed that this method for correcting well established techniques functioned successfully because the athlete 'knew' how to do the technique in a 'wrong' way - the 'old way'. Rather than trying to modify the existing learned pattern of movement, a 'new' skill is learned - the 'correct' way. With this approach the athlete appears to be able to discriminate between the two skills, with practice of [differences],i.e., the 'old way' followed by the 'new way', establishing the new way, rather than being 'a step backwards to past faults'. This project has a high applicability and clear implications for the coaching of techniques and for coach education.

The study was published in The Sport Psychologist, 2002, 16, 79-99. Findings were consistent with the performance enhancement effects of Old Way/New Way® demonstrated in other skill development settings, e.g., flight training and workplace training.

Description of the European Athletics Association

The European Athletic Association (EAA), is one of the six Continental groups of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), a European non-governmental non-profit organisation of unlimited duration in the form of a constituent area association of the IAAF registered in Switzerland (since 1 January 2004, before Germany).

The domicile of the EAA is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The objectives of the EAA are:

  • To maintain and develop friendly and loyal co-operation between all the Members for the benefit of athletics, peace and understanding in Europe.
  • To direct all technical, administrative and financial matters of the European region in conformity with the rules of the IAAF and with any special agreement to this aim which may be concluded between the IAAF and the EAA.
  • To promote ethical values in sport and fight against all forms of doping as well as racial, religious, political or other kind of discrimination in athletics.

Published Research

An annotated bibliography listing published research on Old Way/New Way and Sports Coaching Protocols can be found here.

User Feedback

User feedback

Habit Pattern Demonstration

Prior training and experience (established knowledge and skills) that over time have become well learned, automated and instinctive, can interfere with and slow down the learning of new knowledge and skills or even completely disable new learning. This is known as habit pattern interference or proactive inhibition. It is a force to be reckoned with because it is a powerful and universal obstacle to learning.

This brief but intriguing activity, known as the Stroop Test, is a demonstration of the powerful interference effect caused by prior learning.

Exactly what it means for you personally will become clearer after you have done the two short tasks and you interpret your scores.

Proceed to the Stroop Test. When you have done the test and interpreted the results, close that page in order to return to this page.

The Transfer Problem

Here is an extract from a revised version of the site author's discussion paper listed on the CRM-DEVEL web site.

Neil Krey's CRM Developer's Forum serves to identify needs, coordinate processes and facilitate development of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Human Factors (HF) resources and products for aviation and other applications. The human factors approach presents concepts that are relevant not just to aviation but to all skill development training, including performance in sport.

The paper, entitled "CRM training fails because of what trainees already know; not because of what they don't know", makes the point that,

"In many training programs the learner may appear to be able to adopt the desired behaviours during the training session, e.g., "Crew members ask questions regarding crew actions" (one of Helmreich's Crew Performance Markers) but when they get into the air much of what they apparently learned during training sometimes seems to disappear. This is especially noticeable when things get busy or in emergency situations. Under high work load and stressful conditions people invariable revert to their "own way" [i,e., prior training, poor or no training, ingrained error or misconception] and forget their new training. This is known as the, "transfer of training problem".

"The transfer problem plagues most training efforts. For example, research from the University of Texas tells us that it can take up to 1,000 hours for an experienced pilot to become fully competent and comfortable with the flight management system. The transfer problem applies to all training and learning situations; not just flight training - it is universal and hence extremely important."

"The traditional answer to the transfer problem is to make them practice - "just keep practicing and it will come, eventually". While this is true and most will catch on soon and others will take longer, this time honoured remedy is very slow and expensive. The effects associated with the transfer problem, namely frustration, extra training time and cost, dropout rate, increased likelihood of error, incidents or accidents, all take their toll."

"The transfer problem is the real bogey in CRM training (and in any other training) and it has to be addressed." Read more.

What is Old Way/New Way® Learning?

Sports Coaching Protocols™ employ an adaptation of Old Way/New Way® Learning for use in sports coaching. Old Way/New Way® relies on well known learning principles. It is officially endorsed by the then South Australian Department of Education as a recognised and approved learning method (The Education Gazette, 1983, Vol. 11, No. 11, week ending 29 April, p. 289. Department of Education, South Australia.)

Basically, Old Way/New Way® Learning is a special way of practicing that greatly reduces the mental interference from established habit patterns (e.g., prior training) and consequently accelerates learning and improves performance.

Old Way/New Way® is a novel synthesis and interpretation of existing and newly emerging cognitive science concepts and principles, including automaticity in behaviour (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999); learned errors (Reason, 1990); the influence of prior learning (Ausubel, 1968); metacognition (Flavell, 1987); and proactive inhibition and accelerated forgetting (Underwood, 1957; 1966).

Developed by Dr Harry Lyndon in the 1970's, Old Way/New Way® consists of a protocol or set of instructions. Much more than just a remedial method, this protocol accelerates cognitive and behavioural change within individuals, greatly reduces the typically prolonged adaptation period to the adoption of change and consequently improves learning transfer.

Experienced Old Way/New Way® practitioners have adapted the original Old Way/New Way® protocol to a wide variety of learning and training situations, environments and individuals.

Why is Old Way/New Way® Necessary?

What's wrong with currently available methods of sports coaching?

Current coaching methods can be quite effective when learning something new but are much less effective when changing something that is already established. Examples are changing sport codes from rugby league to rugby union or changing your faulty golf swing. In such change situations Old Way/New Way® comes into its own and gets better results than other coaching methods.

Whenever we want or have to change our beliefs, understanding and performance this presents special learning and training problems because old habits of thought and deed die hard. As an old flight instructor once said,

"The problem is not learning the new, it's forgetting [unlearning] the old."

Conventional learning, training and behaviour change methods typically come up against force of habit. This conflict between the old and the new produces a typically extended adaptation period. Even highly skilled and motivated people who diligently practice their new way despair when they find themselves repeatedly falling back to old ways as they struggle to adapt.

During this adaptation period, their performance slows, concentration demands rise, errors increase, risk exposure increases and frustration levels rise. These are all signs of a brain in conflict; an all too familiar but completely unnecessary conflict.

Old Way/New Way® bypasses the brain mechanisms that preserve prior learning and that make old habits die hard. This learning method greatly accelerates change and improvement.

Figure 1: Old Way/New Way benefits

So, at what point in the sports coaching process should Old Way/New Way® be used?

  1. Conventional training and coaching methods should be used when learning something new and unfamiliar.
  2. Old Way/New Way® should be used when changing over to something that is different from and consequently conflicts with, or is likely to conflict with, what we already know and do, as in the correction of errors (technique/skill correction) and in conversion/transition training.

Old Way/New Way® is a generic learning method that has been applied successfully to a wide range of skill correction and skill development situations and to the correction of incorrect or incomplete mental models, i.e., the correction of misconceptions and the improvement of understanding.

Published experimental studies incorporating a control group (Figure 1) and workplace trials show that when individuals undergo conversion or transition training or skill/technique correction that incorporates Old Way/New Way®, they typically experience:

  • 80% improvement in the specific skill and its understanding after one training session, i.e., people improve a lot faster
  • no reversion or falling back to old ways, even during stressful performance, i.e., people remember what they were taught.

Since 1986, Personal Best Academy has been the sole supplier of customised Old Way/New Way® training to government and industry trainers, worldwide.

Proof of Concept: Published Research, Workplace Trials, User Case Studies

Old Way/New Way® is a learning method that is underpinned not just by a theoretical framework. Research published in refereed international journals, case studies, user reports and the results of workplace trials all confirm that Old Way/New Way® is cost-effective, easy to learn and readily adopted by coaches, athletes and players. Coaches find they can integrate Sports Coaching Protocols™ seamlessly into their professional toolkit.

Published research, workplace trials and case studies over the last thirty years (see bibliography) indicate that an athlete or player who undergoes Old Way/New Way® training when trying to change something already established, is able to make the change change after one or two brief coaching sessions, provided that the problem was correctly diagnosed prior to the intervention and he or she follows the prescribed post-intervention self-correction routine.

Typically, after one successful correction session with Old Way/New Way®, an individual, group or team has an 80% or higher probability of performing in the new way; a 20% or lower probability of still performing in the old way; and a 90% probability of self-detecting an old way if and when it occurs and then self-correcting it.

The success of this change method and subsequent performance improvement or behaviour change depend very much on a correct diagnosis or identification of the "old" and "new" ways, i.e., what is the person doing that has to change and what should they be doing instead?

Although the Old Way/New Way® protocol itself is not complicated to administer or follow, what comes before the intervention (i.e., the identification of the old and new ways) and what comes after (i.e., self-correction and follow-up) both require experience and expert knowledge of the change area concerned.

For example, correcting poor technique in the javelin throw requires expert input from both the athlete and his or her experienced coach. Athlete and coach have to identify exactly what things are wrong with the athlete's technique. They then have to identify the optimal technique for that particular athlete at his or her stage of development. These preliminary tasks precede the application of the change protocol and require sufficient knowledge and time.

Although the athlete will be enabled by the Old Way/New Way® protocol to change over to the "new" way, failure to correctly identify the "old" and "new" ways can compromise the entire change session and result in no improvement or, even worse, a drop in performance as measured by accuracy and length of the throw.

An "error" can be a performance error or a misconception or faulty mental model. These physical and mental errors are related because many performance errors start with a "wrong" idea or a faulty or incomplete mental model. In some situations, correcting the misconception is enough to also correct the associated performance error. In other situations, both the performance or action and its underlying wrong idea have to be corrected. This again illustrates the wide usefulness of Old Way/New Way® but also explains why practitioners need to be experienced interventionists and be mindful of all the possible complications. There are many traps for young players.

Old Way/New Way® is not only effective but also a flexible change tool because it can be used with individuals, groups or teams. There are important differences in the protocols when working with more than one individual at a time but the results are the same.

Another useful feature of Old Way/New Way® is that change and improvement can be achieved incrementally. Sometimes, an individual or group cannot make a big change all at once. For example, a young athlete may not have the physical capability or lacks the readiness to adopt the "ideal" technique for his or her sport, so smaller, incremental improvements in technique can be made sequentially over several Old Way/New Way® sessions.

All this makes Old Way/New Way® a very useful and effective tool for change in all areas of sports performance.

Old Way/New Way®—by Graham Cook. Extracts from Sports Coach, 2003, Vol. 25, No. 4.

It is one of the most perplexing and frustrating obstacles any coach has to face; without warning and often without apparent reason, the athlete they are coaching goes into a form slump.

Hitherto excellent techniques, often carefully refined over years of hard work are lost, to be replaced by persistent and stubborn errors that refuse to respond to correction.

In the past, this has usually resulted in a long and destructive regime of constant repetition of skill drills aimed at driving the offending error from the athlete's repertoire....  [However] the correct technique, apparently recovered after constant practice, disappears under the pressure of competition ....

A different approach ... enthusiastically endorsed by a growing number of coaches and sporting professionals, is Old Way/New Way®, which aims to put the athlete back on the right path, not within months or weeks, but possibly after one intensive session ....

... one of the most spectacular examples of Old Way/New Way®'s success [is] cricketer Jason Gillespie [who] needed to change his bowling action .... he was able to change a major part of his bowling action in about 20 minutes ....

... Olympic [athletes], a javelin thrower and a sprinter, were in a form slump associated with technique problems .... both problems were corrected ....

While an experienced [Old Way/New Way® practitioner is needed initially, there is no reason why coaches should not quickly learn the subtleties of the method and introduce it when required.

South Australian Sports Institute (SASI)

Mediational Learning has been applied, by the psychologists at the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI), with a variety of different athletes. These athletes include the following: Baseballers (pitching technique); basketballers (shooting technique – 3 point line, and jump shots); divers (hurdle technique on spring board, take- off technique on platform, and body posture); rowers (catch position), soccer players (kicking technique), and volleyballers (hitting and serving technique, as well as team concepts and beliefs).

Mediational Learning (Old Way New Way) for Accelerated Skill Correction: A New Paradigm and Technique for Elite Sport. K. Baker and G. Tan.

Full text of this conference presentation research paper.

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