Acquiring and Performing Movement Skills

A player receiving a ball in the centre first and quickly passing it on is an open skill, it is affected by the positioning of other players on the court as well as the speed that the player receiving the pass has just ran to pick it up and of course the position the player is in and the height and speed the pass has been received at. The skill is a serial skill because it includes many different sub-routines, the first being running, followed by jumping, catching, landing and then finally passing the ball onto the next player.

A serial skill also has a clear beginning and end. For a novice the skill would be broken down into smaller chunks using part practice, firstly you would concentrate on catching, then throwing and then introduce the footwork rule, this would allow the player to concentrate on one part of the subroutine, it also prevents the learner becoming overloaded with information. Each of these individual skills can be practiced in a fixed practice situation, this allows repetitive practices in order to groove the new skill and allow it to become habitual.

As the player becomes more familiar with the footwork rule and competent at catching and throwing the training could then progress into running to receive a pass and passing it onto the next player in a whole practice this will allow the learner to get a feel for the skill and begin to know what is right and wrong. Once the learner is competent with the new skill they can then begin to place it into a Varied Practice in order to understand the different demands of the skill in its open environment.

A varied practice allows the perceptual skills, information processing and decision making of the player to develop as well as allowing the player to learn different techniques to allow the player to cope with the new environment. There are three stages of learning the Cognitive phase is the initial phase which is where beginners start, this stage involves the performer having to understand what needs to be done and then thinks about how to do it.

Gestalt believes that the skill is best presented to the learner as a whole, this will allow the learner to solve the problem by drawing on previous experience and then by developing perception which will be needed to complete the task successfully. In order for the skill to be learnt the performer must want to learn the skills, this will mean that according to the inverted U hypothesis the player will need to be at the peak of the U and not under or over aroused as this would severely limit the learning potential.

During cognitive learning a mental picture is created this could be through being shown a demonstration, this would allow the performer to copy and match the visual model, the observational learning theory states that in order for the demonstration to be effective the observer must pay attention and focus on the model that is being shown, this can be helped through some verbal guidance by the teacher placing emphasis on the key parts of the performance such as the footwork element.

The observer then must be able to Retain the information shown to them, the verbal guidance will aid the performer in retaining the information however the demonstration should be repeated in order for a clear mental picture to be made through mental rehersal. The person observing the skill then must be physically able to reproduce the skill and finally they must be willing to learn the skill and have the drive and motivation to do so.

The learning of the skill will involve some trial and error however extrinsic feedback would be used in order to correct any mistakes. The associative stage is the stage of practice, trial and error is vital during this stage and the performer will act on both intrinsic and extrinsic feedback, the performer will begin to get a feel for the skill allowing intrinsic feedback to occur. The performer will begin to link the mental model with the practice.

Again here verbal guidance is vital in order to direct and correct the performer. The Autonomous stage is where the movement is almost automatic it is overlearned and the Stimulus response bond is grooved. The movement looks fluent and is carried out with little conscious control, The motor programme has been formed, however practice must continue inorder to prevent the performer returning to the autonomous stage.

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