Describe Fitt’s and Posner’s phases of learning and explain how you would structure practices to enhance performance

In 1967 Fitts and Posner suggested that the learning process is sequential and that we move through specific phases as we learn.  You don’t just learn in one phase, which makes you an expert. You would need to progress through the phases to improve and learn new skills. You also need the experience to become an elite athlete; “Learning is a more or less permanent change in performance brought about by experience” Knapp, 1973. They believe that each motion in the sport must be perfected before moving on to harder motions so that you do not complete the skill incorrectly and make it into a bad habit. It doesn’t rely on the principal “Practise makes Perfect” as much as “ perfect practise makes perfect.” For example, in football learning to just kick a ball and practising that, might not mean that it’s the correct technique to kick. So without the right technique it would not be as effective in a game situation. Once the skill has been perfected then the athlete can move on to the next stage. In certain phases the athlete would receive feedback and also they would need to rehearse the skill regularly and correctly.

I personally think their theory works well because it is so easy to apply. It can easily be taken to any sport and used. Some people don't believe it works because it depends on the way the feedback is applied and the activities used to teach the performer the skill. If the skill is taught badly then they will not be able to progress to the next stage of learning. If the skill is taught for too long the performer will lose interest and may not wish to learn the skill correctly and therefore will not be able to move on. Like in gymnastics, if the performer is taught how to do the movement for too long, then it's more then likely that they will lose interest in the routine and if made to perform it, will not be of a high standard. The coach has to learn the tedium threshold of the performer and make sure this is not reached. If the correct feedback is not used then the performer can get confused about what they should be doing and not be able to complete a certain component of the skill and therefore will not be able to complete the overall skill, meaning they can't move on. For example a serve and volley in tennis, they may be able to complete the serve, they then may be able to move into the net and get in the position to volley. They may be able to volley well when at the net, but as a whole manoeuvre they might have been taught incorrectly

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There are three phases that Fitts andPosner believe in:

  • The Cognitive phase
  • The Associative phase
  • The Autonomous Phase

They believe that if you follow these thoroughly and correctly then you will progress in your sport.

Cognitive phase

This stage is when the athlete is a beginner to this specific skill and so they would have to go through the skill slowly and simply depending on their personal rate of learning and ability. Cognitive meaning a specialized thinking or conscious mental process, it is the initial stage of learning and if the athlete wants to ...

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