The Learning Process

In order to be effective teachers, we need to understand as much as we can about the learning process. There are a couple of very important concepts:

  • The Growth Mindset
  • Motor Learning Principles


Growth Mindset

A collaboration of research, led by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, has become very popular in the classroom and is providing a positive influence in youth sports. The premise is that the belief in one's ability to improve and learn has an enormous influence on their development. And often it is coaches, parents and peers that unintentionally provide interference. She has a book called "Mindset", multiple TED talks, and the best resource online as far as primers go are on Train Ugly.

Growth Mindset Introduction

The Effect of Praise on Mindset

Motor Learning Principles

Volleyball is one of the sports on the leading edge of using science-based research on motor learning to influence what and how we train young athletes. There is a site called Train Ugly that does a great job of breaking these principles down and relating them to sports.

Train Ugly - Motor Learning Resources

Important Concepts:


The closer your practice resembles a game, the better it is for you: “The game teaches the game.”

Contextual Interference

We learn better when things are a bit tougher and force us to think and plan before each rep.

Random vs. Blocked Practice

Random practice leads to more learning and retention than block practice. Random practice forces us out of auto-pilot and ensures that we read, plan, and do before every rep.

Whole vs. Part

Learning the whole skill is better than learning parts of it.


Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process.