Skill Acquisition in Sport: Research, Theory, and Practice

Skill Acquisition in Sport: Research, Theory, and Practice

Skill Acquisition in Sport: Research, Theory, and Practice

Skill Acquisition in Sport: Research, Theory, and Practice

Synopsis

The acquisition of skill is fundamental to human existence and throughout life we are continuously trying to develop new skills and refine existing ones. Success in sport depends upon the athlete's ability to develop and fine-tune a specific set of perceptual, cognitive and motor skills. This book examines how we learn such skills and, in particular, considers the crucial role of practice and instruction in the process. Leading authorities within the field provide a comprehensive review of current research and theory on skill acquisition. Potential avenues for future work are highlighted and, where possible, implications for instruction and practice are discussed. Skill Acquisition in Sport will be of interest to those involved in movement sciences and motor behaviour work in sport, as well as physical therapy, ergonomics and human factors. This book will appeal to students, academics and practitioners, given both its discussion of current and complex issues in motor behaviour and recommendations for effective practice in the field.

Excerpt

The acquisition of perceptual-motor skills is fundamental to human existence. At each stage within the cycle of life, humans continuously strive to acquire new skills or to refine existing ones in the hope that productivity and quality of life is enhanced. This is particularly the case within the domain of sport where individuals are judged almost exclusively by their ability to reproduce such skills, often in a diverse range of performance contexts. Skilled athletes spend many hours practicing and refining these skills with the aim of improving performance and achieving excellence. The practice history profiles of experts in a variety of sports suggest that an investment of over 10,000 hours of practice is required to reach elite levels of performance. It appears that the commitment to engage in practice, and practice itself, are the most important factors in the development of expertise.

Despite the perceived importance of practice, relatively little effort has been devoted to the process of identifying those factors underpinning effective practice or how the acquisition of skills can be facilitated through the instruction process. This fact is particularly disappointing when one considers the amount of time and resources devoted to other factors assumed to be important to performance enhancement in sport, such as physical training, diet and nutrition and mental skills training. Questions relating to practice and instruction have historically been viewed as the preserve of the practitioner, with current practice often driven by intuition and anecdote rather than empirical evidence.

The aim in this book is to partly redress the balance by highlighting the importance of practice and instruction in the acquisition of sports skills. A combination of established authorities and up and coming researchers from around the world provide contemporary reviews within their specific areas of expertise. Attempts are made to integrate current research and theory, highlighting potential avenues for future work and, where applicable, implications for instruction and practice. The book 'kicks off' with a chapter from Jeff Summers, who chronicles the historical development of the field. The material covered provides a useful backdrop to the remaining chapters in the book, putting the ensuing topics into a broader historical context. The book is then divided into three somewhat distinct parts encompassing prevalent theoretical frameworks from the perspectives of information processing, the expertise approach, and ecological/dynamical systems theory. It is acknowledged that there is some overlap and theoretical integration across the parts.

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