Dual Task: Enhancing Cognitive & Motor Skills in Sports

demonstrating the art of putting in golf.

In my previous post, “Street Soccer as a Cognitive Game”, I touched upon the unique relationship between street soccer and cognitive development. I briefly discussed the “Dual Task” concept—simultaneously performing cognitive and motor tasks. But, what is Dual Task in depth, and what research supports its relevance in sports? This article series delves deeper into these pressing questions.

Read more: Dual Task: Enhancing Cognitive & Motor Skills in Sports

Understanding Dual Task

Firstly, let’s simplify what Dual Task entails. In sports, we often refer to basic techniques like dribbling in soccer or hockey as motor tasks. Alongside these, we have cognitive tasks that encompass aspects like ‘information processing,’ ‘spatial awareness,’ and ‘decision-making speed.’ The essence of Dual Task is combining these tasks. For instance, while juggling a soccer ball (a motor task), one might recite the 8 times table (a cognitive task). If executed seamlessly, it indicates that the cognitive task isn’t disrupting the motor activity, highlighting the automation of foundational movements.

Dual Task in Research:

Numerous studies have investigated the effects of Dual Task on training. For instance, Masters researched how Dual Task impacted the learning of basic techniques (primary movements). The technique in focus was ‘putting’ in golf. Not sure what putting is? Check out the video below where Tiger Woods demonstrates.

Participants were divided into two groups. Group one received guidance from professional coaches, constantly receiving feedback. In contrast, the second group learned through Dual Task: primary task being putting and secondary task—reciting a random letter upon hearing a metronome beep. After five consecutive days of practicing, a performance pressure test was conducted. Surprisingly, the Dual Task group outperformed the coached group. Why? The Dual Task group utilized their working memory to manage pressure, while the other group consumed it for the putting technique, leaving no room to handle stress.

A Recommendation for Coaches:

Coaches might consider avoiding taxing the working memory when teaching basic techniques. Techniques like Dual Task or inducing fatigue can diminish reliance on the working memory. Stay tuned for more insights and suitable exercises related to Dual Task.

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