To what is the 'Motor' in Golf Motor Learning referring?- Dr. Tim Lee's Introduction to Motor Learning in Golf, Part 1
Ask any golfer why they practice and a typical answer is “to play better golf”. To those who study movement skills and performance, this goal is usually referred to as motor learning. But that term packs a lot of meaning, so over the next three short articles we will try to unpack the term and explain what it is and isn’t referencing. In this first article, we describe to what the “motor” part of motor learning refers. The second article makes an important distinction regarding performance and learning. And, the last article goes into more depth about what actually changes during the motor learning process by describing the schema theory concept.
Our goal in this series of introductory articles is to provide a basis for understanding how real change is made in golf skills as a function of practice. The three-part introduction sets the stage for later articles about the many different aspects of golf practice.
Golf skills involve the motor system – a component of the central nervous system that drives the actions of muscles on bones and joints, resulting in movement. But, golf skills involve much more than that. We use sensory information to decide what to do before a shot is made (such as visual information in reading the break of a putt.) We also use sensory information during the swing to control movement (such as vestibular information in balance control during a soft-sand bunker shot.) And, we rely on our cognitive system to make good decisions (e.g., where to aim, what club to choose, and what to avoid when laying up.) So, when we perform and learn golf skills, we are using much more than the “motor” component. In essence, when it comes to golf, “motor learning” is actually “perceptual-sensory-motor-cognitive learning.” But, we’ll stick here to calling it motor learning.