Analogy Learning: Skimming Stones

Wed, 06/13/2012

Easier to Learn

Prominent research into skill acquisition suggests that learning by analogy frees up the mind from specific extrinsic instructions and allows us to perform without the over thinking associated with technical change. Rather than the learner having to compute the individual elements of a new movement, they can tap into a larger, exhisting motor program and adjust and adapt from that.

Resilient to Pressure

Studies in automaticity and ‘choking’ under pressure have indicated that if a skill is learnt implicitly, that is without specific instruction, then the movement is more resilient to pressure. The basic premise being that with less swing thoughts and technical instruction in the learning phase, the competitor will have less of a distraction during performance. This is closely linked to reinvestment theory, to be covered in detail in a future post.

This is a powerful analogy to help create a strong movement in the downswing and develop the desired movement sequence.

The great artwork is courtesy of Today’s Golfer magazine



Related to the Golf Swing

The action of skimming stones is a great analogy for movement and balance in our golf swing. Specifically, the way the right elbow stays close to the body through the downswing while the hips move towards the water and clear to the left. This is a vital move in golf in order to deliver the club from a strong inside path. Only as the skimmer reaches the bottom of their arc would the right arm straighten and the stone get released with a flick of the wrist. Should the wrist ‘flick’ too early and the arm come away from the body then the stone will be unceremoniously dumped into the ground before even reaching the water. This of course represents the common golf swing faults of ‘casting’ and swinging ‘over the top.’


This image also shows how the body stays down and the knees remain flexed until the stone is released. Immediately after this release point the body then straightens to allow the hips to continue turning and to finish in a balance position.


Practice the stone skimming action a few times on the range and you may well be able to connect with the movement pattern without having to think too hard about the specifics of the technique.