S-Cool Revision Summary

S-Cool Revision Summary

What is a Skill?

When explaining or defining a skill, the explanation or definition must contain the following key words and ideas: learned ability; pre-determined results; maximum certainty and maximum efficiency.

A learned ability - the basketball player has to learn how to perform a lay-up shot.

Pre-determined results - the basketball player sets out to put the ball in the basket.

Maximum certainty - the basketball player expects to put the ball into the basket every time.

Maximum efficiency - the basketball player will appear to make the lay-up look effortless, with little energy required and apparently lots of time to do it.

A suitable quote to put these four ideas into was written by Barbara Knapp in 1963 and states that:

"A skill is the learned ability to bring about pre-determined results with maximum certainty; often with the minimum outlay of time or energy or both."

Physical Skills

Also known as motor skills form the basis of all sports and can in tern be sub-divided into two types:

Simple Motor Skills that require very little intricate body movement and are similar in most sports.

Complex Motor Skills that require intricate body movements with finer control of many body parts.

Mental Skills

Most performances in sport require some form of mental activity. The simple motor skills require little mental input, whereas activities such as orienteering require the performer to mentally assess the situation before making a decision about the next move.

Mental input is required to 'read the game' and work out why errors occurred during a performance. Top performers will therefore, have as high a level of mental agility as physical.

Transfer of Skills

The learning of one skill may help in the learning of another skill sometimes in a different activity. This is known as positive transfer.

A previously learned skill may hinder the learning and the way in which another skill in a different activity is performed. This is known as negative transfer.

Skill Classification

Open and Closed Skills

The environment, for example, wind and rain or the terrain can affect the performance of a skill. Skills affected by the environment are known as Open Skills.

Wherever there is an element of unpredictability then the skills can be classified as open.

In sports where an opponents actions play very little or no part in the performance of a skill and skills where the athlete is in almost total control of their performance and the skill is not affected by the environment then these skills are known as Closed Skills.

Some skills will fall between these extremes and therefore there is what is known as a continuum between Open Skills and Closed Skills.

The Pacing Continuum

At either end of the continuum there is external pacing and self-pacing.

External pacing is when external factors determine when the skill or performance is carried out, for example, a shot at goal and when the goalkeeper makes the save.

Self-pacing is when the performer decides when they are going to perform the skill, for example, hitting a golf ball.

The Serial Continuum

This continuum describes skills that range from continuous to discrete.

Continuous skills describe activities such as cycling and walking.

Discrete skills describe those skills that have a distinct start and finish such as a high dive.

There are three widely recognised phases to learning a new skill.

The cognitive phase

The associative phase

The autonomous phase

Cognitive Phase

This is the first stage of learning where the beginner begins to understand what has to be done.

They are shown the actions and shown what the expected outcome of the actions is.

Associative Phase

The performance of the skill improves.

There are fewer mistakes.

The beginner has some ability to understand and correct mistakes.

More use is made of information received from the senses.

Autonomous Phase

The skills are performed without much thought or attention.

Greater attention is made to strategies and tactics in the activity.

Few errors occur and only minor adjustments are needed to improve performance.

Repeating skills over and over again is the key to improving newly learned skills, but some skills are complex on their required movement patens and to aid learning they are broken down into constituent parts that are then repeated individually.

This is known as the part method.

An example of this is triple jump where all three phases of triple jump can be learned and practised separately.

Some skills do not have separate parts to them and therefore the whole skill has to be practised.

This is known as whole learning.

The type of practice a beginner participates in will depend on the physical and mental demands placed upon the athlete when performing the skill.

Basketball players may practise the set shot for a fairly long period of time, as there is no great physical or mental demand made of them.

This is known as massed practice.

If the basketball players were practising the lay-up shot then, because of the physical demand of this skill, there would be a short practice session, a rest and then repeated practise.

This is known as spaced practice.

To assist in the learning of new skills the teacher or coach will often give guidance.

There are three different types of guidance:

  1. Visual

  2. Verbal

  3. Manual

Visual guidance often comes in the form of demonstrations from the teacher/coach or from a video recording of other athletes performing that particular skill.

Verbal guidance is a spoken explanation of the skill that can occur before, during or after the skill has been performed.

Manual guidance can take the form of the teacher/coach helping someone by holding them while doing the movement or, where the skill is particularly dangerous or difficult, the performer may be in a belt or sling to give support and safety.