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

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

Skill, ability and technique are all individual components, which can be put together in order to perform a movement in a game situation.

        Skill has been defined as…“The learned ability to bring about predetermined results with maximum certainty, often with minimum outlay of time or energy or both.” (Knapp, 1963)                          and

        “Excellence of performance-the successful integration of a hierarchy of abilities appropriate to a given task under given conditions”

 (GP Meredith, Information and skill)

These definitions of skill convey the essential points concerned with skill. It says that a skill is something you learn to a point where it can be performed predictably, consistently and efficiently in a competitive situation.

        Ability can be split into two categories, motor abilities and perceptual abilities. Motor abilities have been defined as…

“A personal characteristic, or trait, which contributes to proficiency in a number of skills” (Stallings, 1982)

Perceptual abilities have been defined as…

“the way in which we notice important things that are happening around us, and thus determine how quickly and effectively we make decisions….” (Stallings, 1982)

        This definition of ability is widely accepted; it suggests that motor ability is something you are born with which enables you to carry out certain tasks. Perceptual ability is our ability to take in information and convey it when in a game situation.

        Technique has been defined as…

“Techniques are the basic movements of any sport or event e.g. a the block start in a 100m race is a technique. We combine a number of techniques into a pattern of movement” (http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/skills.htm). Technique has also been defined as…

“The building blocks, which allow athletes to achieve skilled performance.”

(Douthwaite, 2000)

        Both definitions of technique convey an essential message; when performing a skill we must learn the required technique.

        If you consider the three definitions I have analysed, you can put together the formula


(Advanced PE for Edexcel)

The formula states that to perform a skill, you must be born with the required ability and combine that ability with the required technique. If you have the ability and the required technique then the movement produced should be skilful. If one of these components is lacking then the skill/quality of the movement will depreciate.

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        One of the reasons we classify components is so we can improve individual components in order to improve the quality of a skill. Practices can be structured to develop these components usually by isolating the component. When teaching a skill various methods are used verbal instructions, demonstrations, video’s, diagrams and photo’s are good methods to use when trying to learn the required technique.

Fitts and Posner (1967) suggest that learning is sequential, we move through different phases as we learn.

There are three main stages to learning a new skill…

  • “Cognitive phase - Identification and development of ...

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