Friday , October 19 2018
Home / EconLog Library / Learning Transfer in Athletics

Learning Transfer in Athletics

Summary:
Intriguing email from EconLog reader Jason Braswell, reprinted with his permission.Hi there. I'm a long-time reader of your blog who is currently reading your latest book. After reading your first section on the failure of cognitive skills to transfer, I thought you might be interested to know (if you don't already) that the situation is exactly analogous when it comes to physical skills. While it's true that non-neurological physical training adaptations (like strength increases due to increased muscle cross-sectional area, flexibility, and VO2 max) can improve performance in a variety of sports, neurological adaptations are painfully specific. For instance, improving one's balance on a wobble board

Topics:
Bryan Caplan considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

David Henderson writes Caplan on Education

Alberto Mingardi writes Can Koch money hijack academia?

Bryan Caplan writes Why Isn’t the Military a Stronger Signal?

Bryan Caplan writes My WSJ Interview/Profile

Intriguing email from EconLog reader Jason Braswell, reprinted with his permission.

Hi there. I'm a long-time reader of your blog who is currently reading your latest book. After reading your first section on the failure of cognitive skills to transfer, I thought you might be interested to know (if you don't already) that the situation is exactly analogous when it comes to physical skills.

While it's true that non-neurological physical training adaptations (like strength increases due to increased muscle cross-sectional area, flexibility, and VO2 max) can improve performance in a variety of sports, neurological adaptations are painfully specific. For instance, improving one's balance on a wobble board yields no improvement in balance on stable ground. Improvements in squat strength (when due to better neuromuscular coordination) don't yield improvements in vertical leap height. Improvements in power output for a certain movement show little transfer to even to the same movement at different speeds. For example, increasing your power output at moving a five pound object may yield little to no improvement when moving a 50 pound object in the same manner. 

Much like cognitive researchers' failure to find a way to (durably) improve g, sports training researchers don't have a good way to make better general athletes. I happened across this link with a number of studies on the topic.

It's indirect evidence, but I still think it should nudge one's priors in favor of your claims as well.


P.S. Though I'm not much of a sports guy, I do briefly discuss "detraining" - the physical analog of forgetting.


Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN. Bryan Caplan blogs on EconLog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *