How Technology Affects Performance Training

 

Athletic training is heavily dependent on skill development. Whether you’re a tennis player, a boxer or a triathlete, the movements used by elite performers aren’t significantly different from the ones used by beginners.

The difference lies in how well those movements are executed, and the range and intensity of conditions under which they can be displayed.

When you first begin learning something, it takes up all of your conscious attention and you make frequent large errors. Over time, you begin to develop a felt sense for what a good running stride, a smooth tennis serve or a crisp left jab feels like and you can do it more reliably, with smaller and fewer mistakes.

Eventually, those skills become second nature. You no longer need to think about how to return a tennis serve or maintain an efficient running cadence, you just do it. Your conscious attention is freed up for other things, like assessing your competition or noticing small changes in terrain.

We learn by making and correcting small errors on the edge of our ability. An expert tennis player can subconsciously make minuscule changes to the position and speed of their racquet because they’ve practiced doing so for tens of thousands of reps and observed the outcome that followed their action over and over. Eventually, they develop an instinctive feel for how to move and respond.

The ease with which we can learn a skill is determined by the nature of the learning environment that we find ourselves in.

In a “kind” learning environment, feedback is immediate, accurate, and complete. 

You do something like adjusting your grip on a golf club and you can immediately see the result when you make your putt.

In a “wicked” learning environment, feedback is delayed or absent and may be inaccurate or incomplete. 

In a famous example, a physician was renowned for his abilities to diagnose typhoid by palpating the tongue of his patients… with his unwashed hands. It turned out that he was giving his patients typhoid by going from one to another and transmitting the disease himself. In cases like this, the physician’s feedback was misleading. He spent a long time reinforcing flawed and deadly assumptions because of the nature of his learning environment. He didn’t know how much he didn’t know.

Few learning environments are this “wicked” but many athletic activities feature surprisingly opaque feedback. For example, if you’re working to become a better runner, it can be extremely useful to have immediate feedback on your pacing, stride frequency and gait mechanics. But unless you’ve got an expert running coach riding alongside you in a golf cart shouting moment-to-moment instructions to you, it’s very difficult to get this information. You’re essentially trying to practice with a blindfold, unaware of how well you’re performing at any moment, without the information needed to improve.

Technology like Cipher Skin changes this by improving the quality of feedback loops used in training and recovery processes.

The BioSleeve provides immediate feedback on key metrics such as heart rate, arm and leg mechanics, stride frequency, and pacing. With this accurate, detailed and immediate feedback, you will be able to improve faster and have a clear picture of your performance during training.

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