• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Fitts and posners

Free essay example:

PE Coursework

I am going to explain the theory of “Fitts and Posner’s” and go through the phases of each and how you would structure practices to improve a performance in each stage.

In every sport an athlete always wants to perform to his or hers best capabilities and reach the elite stage. In order to reach this level the athlete must be doing specific skill training.

These skills practices must be taught well because if they are not then the structured practice may result in injury, reversibility and over training. This will lead to poor results for the performer.

There are three phases to the “fitts and posner” theory these are as follows

Three levels



Autonomous phase

Cognitive phase

This is the beginner’s level and first stage of learning a certain sport. In this stage aims are set and skill learning is begun. It is a trial and error method of learning which helps the athlete understand and get better through his or hers mistakes. This trial and error method of learning which helps the performer to keep high attention and concentration during this phase. The improvement is rapid, but movements are jerky and uncoordinated. Also the use of role models is used to help the perfomer’s confidence.

“ congotive phase- Identifiaction and development of the components parts of the skill

  • involves formation of a mental picture of the skill “

examples of Cognative phase




Hockey- showing the performer how to hold the stick correctly. This is the 1st time a person might have held a hockey stick so must be taught how to hold it correctly and the rules.

Tennis- showing how to grip the tennis racket correctly. They must also be shown how to position them selves and how to strike a ball as they are beginners

Golf- How to grip the club properly. Must be taught how to hold there club and also which club is a appropriate for a shot and how to work each club.

Practice method:

To improve in a cognitive stage you would use the distributed method because the training sessions would then ivolve rest intervals which could be used also for feedback purposes and gives time to the performer to recover. Distrubuted practice mainly means a technique where an athlete distributes his or her study effort in a given course over many study sessions that are relatively short in duration. This can be compared to massed practice (otherwise known as cramming) whereby the student conducts few but long practice sessions for a given course. An example of distrubuted practice is making a pass in hockey. This is a basic skill for beginners to learn and also is important to learn. To do this is in a training session you could get in a circle and make pass’s to each other it’s a simple but effective session which could be performed in every training session and to develop this futher you could increase the distance and also learn athlete how to reverse pass.

Assosiated phase

This is the 2nd phase of learning a sport. Also know as the intermediate stage in learning a sport. It involves the athlete learning and getting to a certain skill level in there sport and now skills such as passing a ball in football should be found to be easy and not a lot of thinking process has to be used in order to do so. In this stage specific motor programmes and subrotation are developed which are common in that sport. Coordination, technique, timing and anticipation improve quickly. Gross error detction and correction is practiced and utilised. And these are practiced over and over again and also use feedback in order to try and get to the elite stage and this stage MUST follow the congotive stage as you can not go straight the this stage.

“ assosiated phase- Linking the components parts into a smooth action- involves practicing the skill and usuing feedback to perfect the skill”





Football- being able to use both feet with ease and being able to do all basic skills such as heading.

Badminton- hitting backhand and forehand to a partner in a rally. Works technique

Golf- griping correctly and being able to strike ball correctly and keep the shot straight and having correct posture.

Practice method:

To improve in a assocated stage you would use a variable method because this method practice conditions are varied to encourage the formation of schema, the practice designed to deal with many situations, and is near near to competitive and is relative to open skills. An example of variable practice could be playing  in a team of 5 and playing two touch football. Teams have to score by only usiing two touchs per person this helps being able to find space and controlling ball. As it’s a varible practice method it can be changed to other training methods which deveop either a different skill or the same


This is the 3rd and final phase of learning in a certain sport. In this stage the performer automatically performs a move easily without to much tought, they are also aware of any enviormental issues such as the pitchs condition for and example it could be a wet pitch so if they are a defender in a football they have to be aware that the ball is going to move on the ball much quicker so tackles have to be timed correctly. This is the stage which elite performers must be at and they now should have the capabilties of not even having to think about for example what they are going to do with a free kick it should now be a natural though process and also the don’t need feed back any more the athlete should now be able to tell and correct himself when ever he or she makes a mistake.

“ Autonomous phase- developing the learned skill so that it becomes automatic- involoves little or no concious thought or attention wilst performing the skill- not all performers reach this stage”

examples of Autonoumas phase




Hockey- taking a penalty corner without having to think of how to take them. This involves tactics

Tennis- Being able to perform all moves correctly such as being able to return service to person everytime with ease.

Golf- being able to putt correctly and being able to tell if theres a slight slant to the green and adjusting to that and making the putt. Involves tactical thought.

Practice method:

To improve a performer in this stage you would use a fixed method because this involves a learned skill which in this stage the perfomer should know inside out and all it need it’s a little adjusting depending on what happened in a match like situation. Also in this training it provides different situations which repond to a game and tactics and strategies should now be haevily involved in a players game. An example of a fixed practice could be taking a free kick in football. The player should now automatically know were he or she is going to place it and then perform the correct technique to do so. They are also adapted to there surroundings and use natural occurances such as the wind to there advantage.


To conclude that the three main stages of learning are cognative phase, associated phase and autonomous phase. You must stary from cognitive phase first and progress to the other two phases for each phase there is a certain type of method that improves the performer at that stage to move to a higher level. The practice methods that you van use are fixed practice, variable pratice, distributed pracice and massed practice. For a cognitive performer to reach an elite level they will have to work really hard and learn a lot of skills and techniques. This will help the perfomer reach the top of there sport.


  • www.brainmac.co.uk
  • advanced pe for edexcel (Frank Gilligan, Colin Maskery, Jon Spence, David Howe, Tim Barry, Andy Ruston, Dee Crawford)
  • www.wikipedia.com
  • www.yahooanswers.co.uk
  • www.spyfu.com/Term.aspx?t=586871
  • www.thesportselite.com/articles/learning.html
  • own knowledge

Word count 997

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Acquiring, Developing & Performance Skill section.

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related AS and A Level Physical Education (Sport & Coaching) Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related AS and A Level Acquiring, Developing & Performance Skill essays

  1. analysis of 2 sports : Badminton and Gaelic Football

    * It supplies energy for the increased cardiac and respiratory rates, which remain elevated during the phase of recovery. * To supply oxygen to provide for the restoration of the oxy-myoglobin link. Recovery is also important for the removal of lactic acid, the build up of lactic acid can cause problems to muscle functioning during exercise.

  2. Gaelic football

    will have individual examples of components to refer back to in his memory. When coaching this skill the learner needs to know the reasons why each part of the skill is necessary; Run-up This is not necessary in the skill as a catch can be performed from a static position,

  1. Discussion about 'Human Resource Management works well in theory but not in practice.'

    Thus, the standard changes much. (Source: developed from Redman and Wilkinson, 2001, p72 and Wilf H. Ratzburg) Because of these subjective problems, some people prefer more objective forms of performance appraisal. But objective-based appraisal also has its own problems. Firstly, measurement is often difficult.

  2. The role of feedback

    The types of feedback not useful would be intrinsic as the beginner would not be experienced enough to know if they had done wrong, negative feedback would be damaging to them and lower their confidence in their ability, and concurrent cant be used as a golf swing is to fast to alter during.

  1. Techniques, Rules and Tactics of Football

    best times to use it are: * When the goalkeeper is not sure of the balance of themselves so quick punch maybe a good way to clear the ball. * To make a strong challenge from 1-2 opponents, it can be cleared with power and accuracy.

  2. Self analysis of weaknesses in table tennis - Comparison to elite model 2

    bring the disadvantage of not being used to other tables when I enter into a tournament etc. * Give a training programme and actually ways you would correct the weakness; Given the weakness in which I have when playing the forehand topspin shot I feel that the actual way in

  1. Elite Performer 2

    Confidence 10/10. Another strong point for Ricky is his confidence, his confidence in himself and the punches he makes. This has a huge effect on performance as it motivates him to succeed. Ricky's confidence was showing during the fight with him using different shots from uppercuts to left right jabs. Pressure 9/10.

  2. PEP The aspect of fitness I am going to develop is strength. This is ...

    Balance can be improved by swinging the club slower, or adopting a wider stance. Coordination: "Involves putting the relevant motor programmes in the right order, and effectively using the neuromuscular system to produce smooth and efficient movement." The golf swing requires a huge amount of coordination, arguably more coordination is required than in any other sport.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work