Teaching skills in physical education

For any activity that humans take part in, practise can make them more successful at it. Practise makes perfect, but the quality of the practise is the most important aspect. Practise can be tiring and lead to boredom and lower motivation. Hull’s Drive Reduction Theory supports this suggestion. Depending on the type of skill being learned, there are many different types of practise methods, which optimise performance as a result. The age of the learner and their level of ability are also influential factors on practise styles.

Methods of Learning. Whole Method The learner performs the skill as a complete unit-perhaps having seen it demonstrated first. This gives the learner a feel for the whole movement (allowing information to be used), and can determine how the various subroutines relate proprioceptive to each other so that it can be performed. Skills performed rapidly are best practised as a whole, as breaking them down into subroutines might drastically change the movement, making it harder to perform back as a whole.

This method is also good for simple skills as there are not many demands on the learner’s attention. It is also less time consuming for both the teacher and learner. In a long jump situation, this method is likely to be used when teaching a complete beginner as part of a physical education lesson. This is because they do not need to go into great detail about the technicalities of the activity, but it allows them to get a feel of the overall activity without spending time on the breakdown of the separate skills/ subroutines contained within the motor programme.

Part Method If a skill is long or complex and can be broken down into sections, the pert method is useful. This entails practising each part of the skill until it is well learnt, then putting it together as a whole. However, a difficulty can be that the learner still has to put the parts together to make a whole (increasing learning time), so the progressive part may be preferred. This method would be useful for long jump. This is because long jump is a very complex skill. Each subroutine must be fluent and consistent to maintain an overall sound performance.

Some athletes have trouble with different subroutines than others. This method therefore allows an athlete to extract the section of long jump that they are weakest at, and work on the subroutine until they feel that an improvement has been made. It also allows a jumper to work on each subroutine individually in the order of weakness rather than the order in which they are completed without the pressure of putting the whole activity together. Progressive Part Method Too much emphasis can cause problems when the learner tries to integrate the parts as a whole.

Certain skills, particularly long and complex skills, are best taught in stages that are linked together because the successful start of each stage depends on the accurate completion of the previous one. Thus the links between the stages are learnt at the same time as the stage. In terms of long jump, this method would be used after the part method. Once all subroutines are established, they would then be put together progressively. For example, it is important to practise the approach-run and take-off phase together without worrying about the flight and landing phases.

Therefore, the athlete would complete the approach-run and put a take-off drill onto the end to get the feel of the movement ‘so far’. Also, the flight phase cannot be developed without completing the take-off phase prior to it. The landing phase cannot be developed without adding the flight phase prior to it. Whole-Part-Whole Method This enables the learner to experience the skill as a whole, then to practise aspects of it and then to re-combine the parts into performance of the whole skill. This is also useful if only one part of the skill requires attention.

It can be practised and performed as well as the other parts and then reintegrated. This is why it is valuable to finish a training session with a practise of the whole skill. This is probably the most commonly used method within long jump. The athlete firstly has a go at the skill as a whole so that they can get a feel for the activity and secondly so the coach can assess which subroutines need development. That subroutine is then set-aside for the athlete to work on. E. g. an athlete may be unsuccessfully performing because they are not taking off from the board.

They would then practise the approach run as a separated skill. When the skill develops, the subroutine will be reintegrated, and the athlete will perform the skill as a whole to see how the development of one subroutine has affected the motor programme. Practise Conditions. The type of practise must allow the performer of an open skill to practise in a variety of different contexts, experiencing the full range of situations in which the technique or tactic might be used in competition (variable practise) to allow a general schema to be developed.

A closed skill performer should partake in fixed practise as the aim of the movement is based on the replication of a specific movement pattern. The fixed practise should include repetition, or drills, to allow movements to be over learned. The next decision about practise that the teacher should make concerns the length of the practise periods and the extent to which the learners need rest during practise. These decisions relate to how teachers structure practise within their lessons, how long each episode should be and how to change the focus of the practise while maintaining the pace of learning..

For a coach, the decision also includes how many times a week the athlete should train and how long the training periods should be, as well as what the training should consist of. If learners need rest during a practise or training session, how long should the rest periods be and what should the learners do in them? This is important because if fatigue or boredom set in, learning decreases. Massed practise appears to be most suitable for activities in which the skill is simple or motivation for learning is high within a complex skill.

The purpose of the practise is to stimulate fatiguing conditions that might be experienced in competition or performance, the learners are experienced, able and fit, or the available practise time is very short. Thus, if the performers are highly skilled, fit and well motivated, massed practise may be the most appropriate form of organisation. This means that the learners work continuously at an activity without a break until the skill is mastered or time runs out. Massed practise is efficient and allows concentration and overlearning.

Distributed (space) practise should be used in activities in which the skill to be learnt is new and/or complex, or the learners are not fit enough. It is also useful for use with people whose attention spans are short i. e. young children, when motivation is low, when there is a danger of injury if fatigue sets in and if weather conditions are adverse. In distributed practise organisation, the total practise session is split up into several shorter periods with intervals between. These intervals may be rest periods or the teacher may set alternative tasks.

However, due to negative transfer, the teacher must be careful when deciding what alternative task should be set during intervals. In general, both researchers and teachers agree that distributed practise is the most effective in the majority of cases. One of the advantages of distributed practise is that the rest intervals can be used for mental rehearsal. This is the process whereby the performer, without moving, runs through the performance in the mind. The learner can do this in several ways; by watching a demonstration or film, reading or listening to instructions or by mental imagery, if the skill is established.

Obviously this is a useful strategy for experienced performers and many use it in preparation for competitions, but interestingly it also appears to enhance the learning process. During long jump, mental rehearsal is most likely to occur during the time periods between jumps, which serve as a rest and composure period. Forms of Guidance. When we practise a skill or activity, some learning inevitably takes place, but we learn most effectively by a combination of experience and guidance.

There are three basic forms of guidance or methods that a teacher/coach may use to transmit information about performance. These include visual, verbal and manual or mechanical. Visual Guidance This is used at all stages of teaching and learning but is particularly valuable in the early cognitive phase to introduce the task and set the scene. Demonstration relies on imitative learning and/or modelling and is a powerful tool. It is efficient ‘on the spot’ and interesting to learners but it must be accurate and relate to their age, experience and gender.

It must show the activity as it occurs in real life. Teachers should avoid talking too much as a demonstration is taking place, but it is necessary to focus the learners’ attention on important performance cues. Visual aids can be of value if constructed and presented thoughtfully. Photo’s, charts and models are cheap and readily available, they can be tailored to the exact requirements of the particular situation, but they are static, and thus limited. Video is generally agreed to be more beneficial, particularly if an action can be slowed down, but playback equipment is expensive.

Video can be used either in place of demonstration or to provide information feedback on the learners’ performances. Computer analysis is increasingly being used in elite athlete research and training centres to provide detailed information about performance Modifying the display enhances the perception of the important aspects of the surroundings. In long jump, all three of these types of visual guidance are frequently used. The coach is able to demonstrate skills and drills to the group if they are not too complex.

If he is unable to do so, an athlete in the group is asked to demonstrate a skill and everybody else has to imitate it. The coach often videos the athletes during a competitive situation to analyse our performances and to show us how we look compared to a ‘model’. This also allows the athletes to link the kinaesthetic feel with the visual image. The display is often modified by placing cones/flags into the pit as a marker for where we are aiming to land. These are also used on the run way to enable a precise approach-run. Verbal Guidance A great deal of coaching and teaching is done using verbal guidance.

A good coach is not only able to set the task clearly and unambiguously and to describe the actions; he/she is able to highlight the important performance cues. With advanced learners these cues are advanced and technical. With beginners it may be more appropriate to express the cues in ways that may not be entirely accurate but that will convey the feel of the movement to the learner. The advantages of using verbal guidance are that it is ‘on the spot’ and, when used by a knowledgeable and perceptive teacher, is directly relevant to the problems and capabilities of the individual learner.

There are some difficulties that a teacher must work to overcome. These include making sure that the learner understands the instructions, ensuring the learner is not overwhelmed with information which they will not be able to remember, and ensuring that the learner will be able to translate the spoken word to movement. In long jump, verbal guidance is used. For example, apart from when giving instructions and setting the tasks. The coach might shout ‘now’ when the athlete needs to open out from the flight phase into the landing phase.

The athlete begins to associate the word with the kinaesthetic feel of the movement and eventually through classical conditioning, the athlete is able to open out at the right time without the need for the word as a cue from the coach. Manual/Mechanical Guidance. This form of assistance involves physical contact, for example by the coach supporting and guiding the movement, or by the support of a device. It allows thee learner to discover the timing and spatial aspects of the movement but does not help him/her acquire knowledge of the forces that act on the body or of the movement cues.

The aim is to reduce error and fear-important when there are safety considerations. Such support is generally used with youngsters and people with special needs. Two forms of manual guidance have been identified: Physical restriction in which a person or an object confines the moving body of the performer to movements that are safe, and Forced response in which the learner is guided through the movement. Throughout my time long jumping, I have never seen or heard of a coach giving manual guidance to an athlete during long jump. Teaching Styles.

There are several different ways in which beginners can be taught information. It involves different presentations of information. The most effective way to learn involves keeping the learner motivated, promoting enjoyment and encouraging achievement. To do this the teacher must be aware of factors such as age, experience, reason for learning and what is going to be learned in order to adopt a teaching style that should lead to the most effective learning. Mosston and Ashworth (1986) They looked at the roles of the teacher and the learner during the process of teaching.

They believe that teaching and learning involve lots of decisions (e. g. what is being taught, how, why, when etc). The amount of influence the teacher and learner has on these decisions can be classified and labelled on their Spectrum of Teaching Styles. At one end of the spectrum the teacher makes all of the decisions (command style), at the other end the learner makes most of them (discover style). Command Style. The teacher is the authoritative figure, which makes all of the decisions on how things are to be done. There is little scope for discovery.

It is often used to control a group because they’re naughty, young, or because the activity is dangerous. The learners are taught in the same way, receiving the same information, and have little influence on how/what is taught. The learners usually copy the teachers’ behaviour or instructions, which leaves little or no time for social contact between learners. Long jump is usually taught in this way due to the high level of technicality involved, and the amount of feedback that is required. Reciprocal Style. The teacher decides on what is to be taught but the learner participates more actively in the learning.

Learners all have a basic skill level and know exactly what to do. They work together in pairs taking turns to be a performer and observer, allowing each one to observe and analyse the performance of the other one, providing instant feedback. The teacher monitors the situation, giving advice and support, and correcting wherever necessary. In long jump this doesn’t often occur due to only having one pit, and the level of detail needed as feedback, will only be available from the coach. It does occur in the warm up as partners watch each other perform drills.

Problem Solving. The teacher sets problems for the learner to solve. This encourages learners to think about their sport and be creative in their approach to problems. There may be more than one solution to the problem-the teacher has limited control over hoe the learner works in order to solve the problem. This style is useful when the teacher wishes the learners to use information they have already learned, and apply it in a novel situation. Learners benefit from hearing others explain their ideas and understandings, and also from having to explain to others themselves.

It enables the learner to acquire a deeper knowledge of the skill and an experience in sport-problem solving. This does not usually occur in long jump, as it is a closed skill so no problems usually occur. Discovery Style. The teacher is the facilitator, who guides the learner by giving clues, hints and questions that get the learner to discover ways of improving a skill or strategy. Discovery style is more creative and open ended. It is not applicable to long jump again because of the high level of skill, and the technical detail needed to perform successfully.

Feedback is used as a guiding tool and is central for good and successful coaching and learning. In order for the learner to learn new skills, there needs to be constant observations of their actions. Feedback is information from the …

This is when the learner performs the skill as a complete unit. This type of learning is best suitable for fast skills or simple skills that have maybe been demonstrated first. This gives the performer a feel for the whole …

Fitts and Posner suggest that this progression from novice to expert can be modelled using information processing concepts. Their model, which shows the three phase of skill learning helps coaches to analyse what stage of learning their athletes are at …

This type of feedback is the ‘sensory information that arises a natural consequence of producing a movement’. It can be sensed from organs in the muscles and the joints called proprioceptors and paramount in learning a skill. They send the …

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