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UK Coaching Team
312
Organising and Planning

Skill Acquisition: Developing Adaptability

What makes the best athletes in the world? Is it their ability to deliver a plan, or their ability to adapt within the performance? UK Coaching Senior Coach Developer Marianne Davies spoke to Olympic Canoe Slalom coach Craig Morris, who takes us on a journey of developing adaptive athletes using an ecological dynamics approach to understanding skill acquisition and development

Craig Morris spends a huge amount of his time sitting next to a river. It used to be on very messy riverbanks but nowadays is more often on very polished concrete ones. Craig coaches the Olympic sport of canoe slalom throughout the performance pathway and is currently preparing athletes for the Tokyo Olympics.

We caught up with Craig to discuss coaching and his use of an ‘ecological dynamics’ approach to skill development. If that is gobbledygook to you, don’t worry, we will demystify the language and share some concepts here, but what we are talking about is the fact that humans are complex (systems), learning and performing in a complex environment. Understanding that is critical for coaching!

Craig describes himself as “very much in the early years” of using the ecological approach.

With no scientific background, Craig had grown up thinking of canoeing as an ‘art form’ that had to ‘look’ a certain way. But individuals and the environment interactions aren't quite that simple, and Craig ended up spending many, many hours doing flat water repetition drills, being somewhat happy but also somewhat frustrated with the transfer of skill to the real world on the whitewater.

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UK Coaching Team