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Lunn Drywall Softball

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 Progression of Learning

Learning any new mechanics or skill in sports is difficult. It is not easy to reprogram Muscle Memory. Once the body and brain get used to reacting a certain way, it is difficult to change, and it may feel funny to change.  For instance, you probably don’t consciously think about the mechanics of using a pen to write with.  You don't concentrate on how to hold it, what angle to write at, how to make the letters or numbers, etc... This is Muscle Memory at work.  If you try to use the pen with your other hand, though, you have to make a conscious effort and concentrate and still will be incompetent at it.  Change is difficult but can be accomplished.  Below is the Progression of Learning; what you can expect to encounter while learning a new skill.

Unconscious Incompetence: This is the starting point. At this stage, the player does not know the proper mechanics and is incompetent at the skill. Muscle Memory controls the improper mechanics and inbeds the wrong mechanics deeper with every repetition. Many players never get beyond this point as they feel comfortable and doing it any other way feels funny.

Conscious Incompetence: Once the player learns the new proper mechanics, they must make a conscious effort to change the Muscle Memory programmed by the brain. They will need to concentrate on the new movement and the new mechanics will feel funny and uncomfortable. At this stage, the player is still working on gaining competence with the new skill.

Conscious Competence: At this stage, the player must still make a conscious effort to change old habits and reprogram Muscle Memory.  They will still have to concentrate on the change but can now complete the skill at a competent level.

Unconscious Competence: This is the stage we all should work to attain. At this stage, the player no longer has to make a conscious effort as Muscle Memory has taken over.  The new mechanics become automatic and are done without concentrating on them.  For instance, at this stage, a batter learning an improved swing will now concentrate only on the ball, not on hand position, attack position, hip and shoulder action, etc...  This is all programmed now in the brain by Muscle Memory.

As we work at new skills and improved mechanics at practice and games throughout the season, it is important to understand that trying new things will feel funny. We all need to work through the “Progression of Learning” and fight that desire to return to what’s comfortable.  Soon Muscle Memory will take over and you'll wonder how you ever did it any other way!