In a Stanford University design study, a pottery teacher split his class into two groups.
The first group focused on making as many clay pots as they wanted in a set amount of time.
The second, on making one, very beautiful pot.
At the end, the teacher graded the pots.
The results were clear.
All of the best pots came from students who made many pots, not from those who tried to make a single, winning piece of art.
The study showed that to get better at something, the experience is important.
In another study, researchers collected the perspectives of elite athletes on preventing injury.
One athlete said “When I was younger, I used to ignore the pain and just keep training. I didn’t pay enough attention to my body.”
Another athlete said “I’ve been training for about 10 years now. I think during those 10 years I learnt what I should do and what I shouldn’t do.”
Just like in the pottery study, the importance of experience was highlighted.
But when it comes to helping young athletes navigate injury, the research on learning gets mostly ignored.
Instead of teaching kids about their bodies, we impose strict prevention programmes that leave little room for novelty and exploration – two things kids thrive on.
Instead of providing engaging insight into the behaviours that restrict injury and empowering young athletes to take appropriate action, we pay it no attention.
And when a young athlete does get injured, instead of helping them to reflect on the experience and understand the proper rehabilitation required, we strap it up and move on.
Getting better at reducing the risk of injury, as well as dealing with one when it happens, is a process.
It’s a skill.
A skill that needs to be learnt.