Monday, January 13, 2014

The Problem With Chunking

One of the ways we learn new skills is to chunk them into smaller parts and then assimilate all the chunks into a whole. Chunking is how expert chess players visualise all the possible sequences of any one move on a chess board. I've been learning to eskimo roll in chunks, which is one of the positives aspects of learning a sweep roll versus a C to C roll, but also one of the negative aspects. 

Doug on Lake Cootharaba

The problem with chunking is, although it helps you master complex skills like an eskimo roll, at some point, you have to sequence all the chunks together into a fluid whole. In drills, you practice the hip flick, then the sweep, then the finish position and then, hopefully, you put it all together into a smooth effortless eskimo roll. But, learning in chunks introduces an artificial division between each of the component parts of an effective roll. In practice, a chunked eskimo roll changes a smooth effortless sequence into a series of disparate parts.

My rolls are improving, but, I am not getting right around into a solid finish position with my torso rotated and my head looking down the shaft of the blade. I had read that you can tie a piece of bright ribbon to the paddle shaft to give your eyes something to follow and this can naturally lead you around into a solid finish position. For various reasons, I found this drill counter productive. Not only did my sweeps deteriorate – because I was focused on that dratted ribbon - but I really felt the sequence of the roll slipping back into a series of separate chunked moves. Any drill is worth trying, but, you need to recognize which drills are helpful and which are regressive. This is the secret to pulling out of “the dip.”

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