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 born with your abilities. However an Australian sports psychologist has found ways of improving hand/eye co-ordination by doing special eye exercises. These exercises are starting to be used more frequently in sports such as goal keeping to improve hand/eye co-ordination but they are not yet proven to work. Technique, according to most textbooks can be easily enhanced and improved. Your technique can be enhanced and improved by feedback from coaches telling you to change certain parts of your technique e.g. keeping your head over the ball whilst kicking a penalty goal in rugby. This feedback can then be used to improve your technique and then you can go away and work on it in the next training sessions.
Variable and Fixed Practice
A major factor influencing the development of a skill is practice of which there are two main types:
- Variable - practicing a skill in a variety of different contexts and experiencing the full range of situations in which the technique or tactic might be used in competition. The learner applies the skill to a number of different environments in practice, allowing both the development of the skill and the ability to adapt that skill to a range of possible situations. This is vital for open and interactive skills.
- Fixed - a specific movement is practiced repeatedly, often referred to as a drill. This type of practice is ideal for skills that are always performed in the same way, that do not require adapting to the environment. Closed, interactive and coactive skills tend to require fixed practice to allow the motor sequence to be perfected, since they will remain the same in practice, as they will in competition.
Massed and Distributed Practice
The organisation of a practice session will depend greatly on those involved and the activity being practiced. Depending on the amount of experience, the skill level and the performers fitness, practice may be organised in two ways:
- Massed - the skill is practiced until learnt without taking a break. These sessions are good for athletes with high level of fitness and experience and are most suited to fixed practice.
Distributed - practice is interspersed with breaks which can either be rest or another skill. These sessions are good for athletes with lower levels of fitness and experience and are most suited to variable practice.
"LET THE GAME BE THE TEACHER."- Bill Beaney
1. Train in small areas at high tempo for short durations to produce the desired level of skill development.
2. People are naturally competitive: take advantage of that naturally competitive nature to assist the coach to create a game like intensity and atmosphere in practice.
The creation of a practice environment that combines 1 + 2 will allow a player to become overall better individually and the team collectively.
Create game like situations and atmosphere in practice will lead to more success in games.
Competing + Playing = Learning.
Forcing players to make decisions will encourage ability to read the game.
Structured Drills or Small Games for Practices
In a game kids don’t have control. Nor does the coach, as he/she can’t stop everything like in a drill. By using small practice games with goals and focus you give them the tools to be successful in the game.
Benefits of use of Small Games
High intensity, short duration allows ample time to talk to players during their recovery without feeling like sacrificing practice time.
Coaches want players who are problem solvers, a situation that occurs repeatedly in games but not in a structured drill.
Games played to conclusion with consequences will build confidence, which, among other things, will help build ‘gamers’ and transition great practice players to ‘gamers’, improving their overall ability.
Put players in situations that they will find in games and help them solve them with guidance from the coach.
Looking at the game, to determine the problems to solve, then create a game. Look for the games within the games: 1v1, 2v1, 3v2.
Skills, critical thinking and the understanding of game concepts will translate effectively from small practice games to full ice competitive games.
This practice technique was written for ice hockey, but I’m sure it could be used to develop a player’s ability in most team sports.
* See appendix 3.0 on what bio-mechanical analysis achieves, and what sort of data can be retrieved.
An example of the advantages gained by using bio-mechanical analysis. The development of technique for a sprinter getting out of his/her blocks quickly. Using data from bio-mechanical analysis, a sprinter can train their technique so that they transfer angular and linear momentum to other parts of their body in an attempt to improve their speed out of the blocks. The throwing action of the arms forward and a strong driving action of the lead leg help to transfer momentum to the whole body for faster movement.
In order to perform a particular skill in sport, we must learn the required technique, In order to learn the technique, we must have the necessary abilities.
The idea that technique has to be a certain style to improve certain skills I think could be wrong due to some sports men and women having irregular techniques but still excelling in there sport such as Muttiah Murallitharan, who is one of the best spin bowlers in the world.
The idea that abilities are innate I believe is partly wrong because Speed, flexibility and hand/eye co-ordination can all be enhanced. Working on muscular strength in your legs can enhance speed and hand/eye co-ordination can be improved by special methods, which have been put forward by experts on the subject. And also that certain coaching methods can improve an athletes overall ability.
The idea that skill equals ability plus technique is the perfect way to describe how to be able to achieve a particular skill. However there are a number of different aspects which come into consideration when performing a skill and being successful at that skill. Skills can be enhanced easily through training, as long as the athlete’s technique, ability and the type of skill that is being trained have all been taken into account, before setting up a training program
Overall skill is developed by having good ability and having technique that suits your body and mind, with thought out training programs to suit you, personally.
- Advanced P.E for Edexcel
- Wesson, K, Sport and Pe, Oxford; Hodder & Stoughton.
- The complete A-Z physical education handbook, Kent; Hodder & Stoughton.
The Gross and Fine Continuum
This continuum is concerned with the precision of movement - gross and fine skills.
Gross skills: involve large muscle movements, where the major muscle groups are involved. The movements are not very precise, and include many fundamental movement patterns such as walking, running and jumping. The shot putt is an example of a primarily gross skill.
Fine skills: involve intricate movements using small muscle groups, tend to be precise and generally involve high levels of hand-eye coordination. A snooker shot or playing the piano are examples fine skills.
The Open and Closed Continuum
This continuum is concerned with the effects of the environment on skills - Barbara Knapp's open and closed skills.
Open skills: sports such as Netball, Football, and Hockey usually involve open skills. This is because the environment is constantly changing and so movements have to be continually adapted. Therefore, skills are predominantly perceptual. The skill is mostly externally paced, for example a pass in football.
Closed skills: These skills take place in a stable, predictable environment and the performer knows exactly what to do and when. Therefore, skills are not affected by the environment and tend to be habitual. Movements follow set patterns and have a clear beginning and end. The skills tend to be self-paced, for example a free throw in Basketball, and serving in Squash or Tennis.
Barbara Knapp suggests that skills can fit on a continuum between open and closed.
The External and Internal Faced Continuum
This continuum is concerned with the timing of movements (and is often used with the open-closed continuum) - internal and external paced skills.
Internally paced or self-paced skills: the performer controls the rate at which the skill is executed. These skills are usually closed skills. i.e. javelin throw, discus
Externally paced skills: the environment, which may include opponents, controls the rate of performing the skill. The performer must pay attention to external events in order to control his/her rate of movement. These skills involve reaction, and are usually open skills. i.e. in ball games the performer must time his actions with the actions of other players and the ball.
The Discrete, Serial and Continuous Continuum
This continuum is concerned with how well defined the beginning and end of the skill are - discrete, serial and continuous skills.
Discrete skills are brief, well-defined actions, which have a clear beginning and end. They are single, specific skills, which make up the actions involved in a variety of sports such as hitting and throwing. Hockey. i.e. a penalty flick in
Serial Skills are a group of discrete skills strung together to make a new and complex movement. i.e. the sequence of skills for the triple jump.
Continuous skills have no obvious beginning or end. The end of one cycle of movements is the beginning of the next, and the skill is repeated like a cycle. These skills could be stopped at any moment during the performance of the skill. i.e. Swimming, Running, Cycling.
Individual, Coactive and Interactive skills
Individual skills are those performed in isolation. e.g. Figure Skating, high jump
Coactive skills are those performed at the same time as others but without direct confrontation. e.g. running, swimming
Interactive skills are those performed where other performers are directly involved. e.g. rugby, football, basketball, netball
Diagram of how skills are measured on continuums
Skills have different characteristics; they rarely involve just one movement.
To make teaching and learning skills as easy as possible we need to analyse them to see their different characteristics.
We do this using continuums.
Example: A tennis serve
- The Tennis Serve can be analysed to reflect the nature of the skill
- Once we have classified a skill we can decide how best to teach it, how to make practices relevant to the skill, how to make learning logical.
- You need to know the definitions for each continuum
- You need to be able to justify why you place a skill in a certain position.
Reference p 84 Advanced PE & Sport
One way of performing bio-mechanical analysis is Peak Motus® it can be utilized in athletics to:
- Determine range of motion for any joint to optimize performance and prevent injury.
- Analyze the improvement of an athlete's technique before and after different training programs.
- Enhance athletic performance and skills analysis using quantitative data and display.
- Synchronize movement data with analog data from force platforms, EMG, etc.
- Demonstrate/instruct the concepts of kinesiology/physical education using state-of-the-art high-tech equipment.
- Calculate highly accurate and precise kinematic measurements of linear and angular displacements, velocities, and accelerations of the body for research or technique analysis.
- Provide a research tool for undergraduate and/or graduate students in biomechanics, kinesiology, physical therapy and exercise science.