Constraints led or is there more? Back to the question.

Can we say, that the sportive action in this picture shows elements of differencial learning in tennis? Constraints change seeing, hearing, time, speed, field size, target, emotion,…

(Thx Mark O Sullivan for the picture, Mark is doing a wonderful job at AIK Stockholm and is writing about constraints led coaching, childrens rights in sports and more on the blog „Player development project„)

Wolfgang Schöllhorn, who has thought and researched about the best way of learning skills in sports, is helping me to understand the differences between Differential learning (DL) and the Constraints Led Approach (CLA) fixing one’s eye on the picture above.

„This is a nice example for explaining the difference of constraints led approach and differencial learning 😉 . Here you see extraordinary constraints in order to feel what you should not do in future (variant of contrast learning). But this only would become differencial learning if the boundary conditions would change next time, e.g. if the „other side“ would change the flying objects (size or speed) or if this guy would change his glasses, the mask, the racket, the technique, the target … next time. In differencial learning it is rather about the rate of change of boundary conditions, it is less about the stressful constraining situations that should be avoided next time. ;- ) “

from a facebook discussion

Constraints or should we…

find another word to describe what we do in our exercises in tennis? I think, that the way of differential learning (DL) is a better way for learners and players to develop technique and tactics in a sport like tennis. Still tennis coaching is dominated by methodical traditionalism and explicit learning.

Wolfgang Schöllhorn, scientist at Johannes-Gutenberg-University at Mainz, after long research about motor learning, has written an nice article about the history of nonlinear pedagogy und the constraints led approach (CLA). And why they are different to DL.

In this blog I use nonlinear pedagogy and CLA very often. They are following systemic theory and implicit learning. Making this real on courts, would be a milestone. But Schöllhorn has researched about motor learning and discovered, that there is a more effectiv way to learn. He called this Differential Learning (DL). In this article from 2019 he describes, why CLA is still dominated by the idea of leading the learner and that the coaches goal is still to bring him to a nonautonomous goal.

I think, Schöllhorn is right. This means in consequence: I have to overthink the terms I use to describe what my players do in trainings. Constraints can be understood as a term for changing courtsize, material, partners, tasks, emotions,…. but not from a pedagogical view and in distinction to CLA.

Effects of complex movements on the brain as a result of increased decision-making

Constraints and Differential learning, some keys

Buchstaben 3D Sticker Alphabet Aufkleber Kinder Lernen ...

ask for feedback

be patient

create a level of instability

don’t talk too much – concentration is silent

explicit coaching leads to breakdown under pressure

freedom to create

give back autonomy to the athlete

human systems theory

implicit coaching improves problem solving and decision making

kill, no, don’t kill creativity by setting clear textbook structures

love your stuff

minimal constraint means maximal influence