Sunday, April 29, 2012

Variability and Schemas

When discussing skill development, variability refers to the various aspects of the skill that will change it's general outcome. Examples include the amount of force used to grip a hold, the direction that the hold is grabbed, etc.

Variability Training
To make variability useful with our training we want to change one aspect of the skill and keep the others constant. Practicing dynos is a good example. If we want to practice higher and higher dynos, the holds that we are dyno-ing to and from should be the same, and the direction we are dyno-ing should also be the same; the only thing that we are changing is the distance between the holds. On the other hand if we want to practice dynos to smaller and smaller holds we would keep the starting hold, the direction and the distance the same, we would just change the ending hold.

Fortunately our brains are very smart and we don't have to perform every single variation of a skill. Our brains develop what are called schemas, according to Schimdt and Wrisberg schemas are "a set of rules relating the various outcomes of a person's actions to the parameters that the person sets to produce those outcomes". In other words, if we want to dyno higher our brains understand that they need to tell the muscles in our legs to contract stronger in order to reach that outcome. As a result of schemas, if an individual learns to dyno with the holds four and six feet apart, that individual will have a greater success dyno-ing at a distance of five feet. Schemas work with all aspects of climbing including hold type, size, angle, direction, and wall angle.

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