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Modeling: what is it and how to apply it in sport?

Learning is a very broad process that can be accomplished in many ways. One of them consists of learning through observation and, later, imitation. This way of learning is called modeling and in this article we will delve into it.

Modeling: what is it and how to apply it in sport?

Last update: February 16, 2023

One of the star techniques for learning behaviors in sport is modeling. The name alone may not tell you anything, but the truth is that you surely know very well what it is about. TO roughlyand as the name itself indicates, modeling consists of learning through models; that is, through the observation of the behavior of others.

This technique was developed by the famous psychologist Albert Bandura, who proposed that learning could not be explained solely by trial and error or rewards and punishments. Instead, he defended that this was also possible from the observation and imitation of others. With this definition, perhaps now the concept is more familiar to you. Next, we will delve into the subject of what modeling is and how to apply it in sport.

What types of modeling are there?

When we talk about modeling we refer in general terms to learning by imitation., but to stop there is too simplistic. Within modeling there are many variants that make this technique more elaborate. In fact, there are different types of modeling depending on the characteristics of the model, the learner and the behavior in question.

Learning by imitation is a clear example of modeling.

Modeled based on model characteristics

  • Live or symbolic: If the person is present at the time of learning, it is considered live modeling. If the behavior is acquired through recordings or videos, it is a symbolic modeling.
  • single or multiple: if there is only one model, we speak of simple modeling; while if the subject learns with several models it is a multiple modeling.

Modeled according to the characteristics of the learner

  • Active or passive: if the person performs the behavior after observing it, it is active, if it is not executed, it is passive.
  • Individual or group: when there is a single model that learns it is individual, while when the model is exposed for several learning it is a group model.

Modeled according to the behavior object of learning

  • Positive or negative: in positive modeling the behavior is appropriate according to social norms; while if it is negative, the behavior is considered disruptive.

How to apply modeling in sport?

Once it has been seen that modeling is not something unitary, it will be much easier to understand how to take advantage of it to increase performance. Although all types of modeling refer to the same technique, the truth is that not all are equally effective in the field of sports.

In general terms, it is preferable to opt for an active model rather than a passive one. It is better not only to have the opportunity to observe, but also to perform the behavior. In this way, a much more significant and lasting learning is produced for the person.

In this sense, this can also be related and applied to team sports. In these ones they can learn from what their classmates do by working in a group, which is known as cooperative learning. A study published in the Magazine motor actionnotes that Despite the fact that cooperative learning is not widely established in the classroom, the truth is that it produces improvements in satisfaction and group cohesion applied in physical education classes.

Cooperative learning is generated thanks to group modeling.

On the other hand, is live or symbolic modeling more effective? That is, if learning through new information technologies is just as effective as learning the old way. The truth is that there is no clear supremacy of live or symbolic modeling, but a mix between the two is also possible, the covert modeling. In this, the person reviews in his head the movements to be executed. Technically, covert modeling has been used a lot in sports under the name of visualization, even though both essentially refer to the same thing.

Take advantage of modeling to increase your performance in sports

After this review of the modeling technique, perhaps now it is more familiar to you, although you have probably applied it more than once throughout your career. And yet, despite the fact that modeling is something that is handled practically on a daily basis, the truth is that you can get more out of it to increase performance. For example, resorting to active modeling and making use of the visualization technique, or covert modeling.

With all this, the next time you see a tutorial on how to perform a movement or your coach gives you a live demonstration, you will already know that you are actually learning in those situations thanks to modeling.

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