Skill Acquisition

Topics: Learning, Skill, Intelligence Pages: 5 (1222 words) Published: October 12, 2011
Skill acquisition refers to the process that athletes use to learn or acquire a new skill. A skill can be defined as an act or task such as typing or drawing, or in the instance of sport, catching, throwing, and running. Skill acquisition is a gradual developmental process that requires our cognitive (thinking) processes to work with our physical abilities to learn how to perform movements that we were previously unfamiliar with. For performers and coaches to produce peak performance, it is essential that they understand how the level of skill acquisition can affect performance. This includes an understanding of the learning process, analysis of how well it is performed and identification of how the performance of this skill can be improved. Learning can occur in three ways:

* cognitive learning - learning by receiving knowledge and information * affective learning - learning on a social level (e.g. self-esteem and fair-play) * motor learning - learning by acquiring physical motor skills. When learning physical skills motor learning is of greatest importance. The ability of individuals to experience, learn and refine motor skills greatly affects their ability to perform any physical activity. This section explores the processes that individuals undertake when learning a new skill and how these processes can be adapted to help individuals learn these skills more easily and quickly. The process of learning new motor skills can be organised into three stages. The learner gains a better understanding of the skill, and improves their ability to execute the skill as they move through these stages of skill acquisition. Cognitive

The cognitive stage of skill acquisition is the early identification and understanding of the skill to be learned. Individuals focus on what to do, that is most of the learner’s activities during this stage will be in the mind – watching, thinking, analysing, reasoning, judging and visualising, rather than lots of practice. During this stage the learner develops an in-depth understanding of the skill to be acquired. Associative

The associative stage of skill acquisition really focuses on the idea of practice with the learner learning how to do it. Practice at this stage increases the learner’s ability to perform the skill or task. They may not necessarily perform the skill well but have an understanding of how to do it. Most learners stay in this stage for a long period of time, with most not progressing to the next stage. Autonomous

The autonomous stage of skill acquisition revolves around executing a skill automatically without having to stop and think about what to do next or how to do it. It is an advanced level of performance where the individual can perform the skill fluently and instinctively and where outside influences do not affect the outcome. It may take individuals a long time to achieve this stage with many never reaching it. This may be due to the training demands, the complexity of the task or a lack of motivation

Characteristics of the learner
Each individual brings unique qualities, characteristics and experiences to the learning environment. These experiences and characteristics influence the capacity of the learner to acquire skills. These include inherited, social and emotional factors, and are the reason why individuals develop skills at different rates even though they may be exposed to the same training. These individual differences include inherited, social and emotional factors and they account for the variability in the learning of motor skills. Inherited factors affecting skill acquisition include gender, age, race, somatotype, body shape, muscle fibre, composition, information- processing capacity and aptitude for the activity. These can be described as the natural ability of the athletes ability to perform activities is usually improved. Skill acquisition depends on the level of:

* Keenness
* Confidence
* Competiveness
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