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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Wilson

Start with the End in Mind

A first principles approach that works backward from cause to effect is widely regarded as best practice. For example, when assessing golf technique, that can be described as working backwards from the flight of the ball to impact, delivery, movement, to set up, and finally to both intent and history.

A similar method can be applied when looking at training. Based on timing, the desired effect of a training session or intervention can vary. Is the session designed to facilitate learning? Maintain performance? Or focus on competitive transfer? Based on that, what should the activity or sequencing of activities looks like?


Learning is a LATER measure of what has been acquired. The goal is to strive for ADAPTATION, in this case, to increased challenge. Challenge is reflected by an increase in active problem solving on behalf of the learner, which is achieved through either new information to be learned (ie: technique), higher standards of performance, or other rules or requirements.


Performance is a NOW measure of proficiency with the ultimate target objective being the REINFORCEMENT of desired behaviors to INSPIRE confidence. In that sense, we are aiming to REDUCE challenge to REINFORCE strengths/maintain skills through reduction of variability or paring down of the environment to only salient information. Further, no new information would be added.


Transfer is LATER measure of skill adaptation to GAME DEMANDS. The primary emphasis is challenging the athlete's ability to MATCH outcome and intent under STRESS. Game demands and stress can be created through SYMMETRY across environments, either in the ordering/sequencing of repetitions, the spacing of repetitions, or both, as well as through consequence and reward structures, ie: scoring, pass/fail benchmarks, etc.

When setting out training for either yourself or another athlete, start with the end in mind, as this can help guide you towards the most effective activities based on your desired objective.

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