"Discuss the differences between skill, ability and technique and explain how you would structure practices to enhance these components of fitness".

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“Discuss the differences between skill, ability and technique and explain how you would structure practices to enhance these components of fitness”


In order to be a success at a particular sport, whether it’s playing rugby for your school or playing football for Man Utd. you must have skill, ability and technique.

Skill is the ability to choose and perform the right techniques at the correct time, regularly and with the minimum of effort in a specific movement in a sport. Sportsmen use their skills to achieve particular objectives in their sport e.g. scoring a try in rugby.

Ability is the make up of a sportsman. A number of different aspects of your make up can be taken into consideration whilst talking about ability e.g. Height, Strength and co-ordination. We inherit our ability from our parents.

Techniques are the basic movements that we make in any sport e.g. a block start in a 100m sprint. We can combine a number of different techniques to create a pattern of movement e.g. the triple jump.

Meanings and Relationships

Skill, ability and technique are always closely linked. The book ‘Edexcel‘ puts forward the equation:

“Skill = Ability + Technique.”

This shows us the close link. The book quotes,

“ In order to perform a particular skill in sport, we must learn the required technique. In order to learn the technique fully, we must have the necessary abilities.”

This quote agrees with the idea that all three areas are needed to be a success at sporting activities.

Skill has been defined by a number of different experts. Here are two definitions:

“An organised co-coordinated activity in relation to an object or situation, which involves a whole chain of sensory, central and motor mechanisms” (Welford)

“Excellence of performance-the successful integration of a hierarchy of abilities (all the abilities we have) appropriate to a given task under given conditions. (Professor GP Meredith)

Both of the above quotes show the distinct link between skill, ability and technique. Skill can be broken down into a number of different types. These are: Cognitive skills, Perceptual skills, Motor skills and Perceptual motor skills.

In order to perform any skill in sports, you must have the ability to do so. Your ability is something that you are born with, so to improve it you need to train. Here are two definitions of ability:

  • “Motor abilities are relatively enduring traits which are generally stable qualities or factors that help a person carry out a particular act” (E. Fleishman)

  • “Motor abilities are innate inherited traits that determine an individuals co-ordination, balance, ability and speed of reactions” (R. Arnot and C. Gaines)

The difference between skill and ability is that a skill can be taught and changed and your ability is something that is inherited from your parents and cannot be taught.

Technique is something, which you need to have to complete a particular skill. It is often confused with skill.

 have many characteristics that can change in different situations, which makes classifying them difficult. Accepting that skills cannot be neatly labeled, we place them on a continuum.

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Most skill classification systems are based on the view that motor skills are affected by three factors:

  • how precise a movement is
  • whether the movement has a definite beginning and end
  • whether the environment affects the performance of the skill

* See Appendix 1.0 for definitions of the main continuums.      

* See Appendix 2.0 for diagram on how skills are rated on continuums.                                  

To structure practices to enhance your ability is very difficult as you are ...

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