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Lab activity: make your own multistable regimes

This is an excerpt from Dynamics of Skill Acquisition-2nd Edition by Chris Button,Ludovic Seifert,Jia Yi Chow,Duarte Araujo & Keith Davids.

We have introduced several important concepts in this chapter that originate from the dynamical systems theory. Our hope is that it will help you to better understand these complex ideas if you were to conduct a practical activity that draws from them. Is it possible to use the prompts below to explore how learners regulate their degrees of freedom as a function of practice? Can you conceive how a metastable regime influences the likelihood of a performer adopting different movement patterns?

Experimental Problems

  • Identify a movement task with which you have limited familiarity (e.g., kicking a ball over a barrier onto a target).
  • As the learner, practice the activity until you reach an acceptable level of skill as defined by a relevant performance criterion (e.g., success on at least three out of four attempts).
  • Identify a key control parameter for the task that you can systematically manipulate or change (e.g., height of barrier, distance to target).
  • Attempt the task under the constraints of a scanning procedure to explore whether a metastable regime exists.

Equipment and Resources

  • Selection of balls, discs, bats, rackets, and targets
  • Open laboratory space or gymnasium
  • Video camera
  • Measuring tape

Hint: Many task choices are available, but it might be helpful to consider general activities that have multiple possible solutions, such as throwing, kicking, balance, or locomotion. Consider the best ways to record the movement patterns and outcomes associated with performance.