10 – Skill Retention and Transferring to a New Sport

How long do athletes retain the sports skills they learn: 5 years, 10 years, forever? If they do lose something, what is it? How easy is it to transfer from one sport to another? What factors determine whether or not transfer will be successful? This episode explores the topic of retention and transfer of sports skills.
What Grinds My Gears: My academic tribute to the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch
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Key points:
• There is very little research that has directly examined the long term retention of sports skill
• Variable practice involves learning one particular skill (e.g., basketball shooting) under different conditions (e.g., different distances from the hoop).
• Constant involves practicing one skill always under the same conditions
• Variable practice leads to better retention and transfer of skills than constant practice, what is called the Variability of Practice Effect
• Evidence suggests that during the time away from practice (the retention period) not only might we not lose the ability to perform the skill, we might improve during this period
• Research comparing experts and novices of at different age levels (e.g., college athletes vs master’s athletes) has shown that the expertise difference is retained.
• There is some evidence to suggest that truly elite performers may have poorer retention of skills as they get older as compared to lesser skilled..i.e., the higher you climb the further you fall
• When studying transfer we need to consider two things: direction and magnitude. Magnitude refers to whether the transfer effect is strong or weak. In terms of direction, transfer can be either positive (resulting in better performance in the new task) or negative (resulting in worse performance).
• The similarity between the sports seems to be a strong determinate of how successful transfer will be
• There is a growing body of research showing positive transfer of training for sports simulations


More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

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