Learning versus Performance

Motor learning has been described as a set of processes associated with practice or experience that leads to relatively permanent changes.  It has four distinct characteristics:

1)  It is a process of acquiring the capability for skilled action;

2)  It is a result of experience or practice;

3)  It cannot be measured directly but only inferred through behavior; and

4)  It produces relatively permanent changes in behavior (Shumway-Cook & Woollacott, 2012). 

In this definition, it is required that a relatively permanent change in performance must occur as a result of practice to be able to infer that motor learning has occurred.  To golfers, how well they can do it “permanently”, or at a minimum, consistently is whether or not they have learned it.  This also would imply that they could perform on the course with their “learned” skill.   But when a player is in the early phase of learning, there are those skills that are merely short-term alterations.  Those initial movements when a golfer is making a change are not actually considered learning if they are only temporary (Schmidt & Lee, 2005).  Students need to understand the distinction between learning and performance so they do not expect to be ready for the course when they have not fully learned the movement. 

Training with biofeedback with Dr. Rob Neal and his BioDynamics system. 

Training with biofeedback with Dr. Rob Neal and his BioDynamics system. 


Shumway-Cook, A., & Woollacot, M.H. (2012). Motor control: Theory and practical applications. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 

Schmidt, R. A., & Lee, T. D. (2005) Motor control and  learning: a behavioral  emphasis. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.