Science and Soccer

By Thomas Reilly; A. Mark Williams | Go to book overview

14

Skill acquisition

A. Mark Williams, Robert R. Horn and Nicola J. Hodges

Introduction

The acquisition of movement skills is fundamental to the development of skilful soccer players. Perhaps the primary role of the soccer coach is to help players develop these skills and improve as players. To achieve this goal, coaches need to have an understanding of how players learn and how practice should be structured and organized. Sports scientists can play an important role within this process by providing guidelines for coaches based on empirical research. As clubs and national associations continue to devote significant resources towards the development of elite soccer players, it is important that current practice is based on scientific evidence rather than on 'lay' opinion.

The aim in this chapter is to review current knowledge concerning how movement skills are acquired and refined, with particular reference to soccer. Initially, key terms such as skill, technique, learning and performance are defined and various measures of performance and learning evaluated. Next, current theoretical perspectives on motor learning are presented and the stages of skill learning described. The focus then turns to some of the key factors underpinning the design and implementation of effective instructional programmes. These include the role of instructions and demonstrations in conveying information about the skill to be learned, the importance of practice scheduling and the provision of feedback. The chapter is concluded by examining the potential benefits of guided practice versus discovery learning in the skill acquisition process.


14.1Skill, technique, learning and performance

The term skill refers to a player's ability to select, organize, and execute an action, appropriate to a given situation in an effective, consistent and efficient manner. Implicit within this definition is the distinction between perceptual/cognitive and motor skills. The focus in this chapter is on motor skill learning and readers are directed elsewhere for literature pertaining to the acquisition of perceptual/cognitive skills (e.g. see Williams and Grant, 1999). Motor skills are distinct from perceptual/cognitive skills in that they require voluntary body and/or limb movement(s) to complete the task (Magill, 2001a).

Skill can be distinguished from technique, which refers to a basic motor action or movement pattern. Skill is the ability to use a technique appropriately and effectively at the right moment. Techniques form the building blocks upon which skill is developed. It is therefore essential that as a result of the skill acquisition process learners know how and when to apply techniques effectively.

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Science and Soccer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction to Science and Soccer 1
  • Part 1 - Biology and Soccer 7
  • 2 - Functional Anatomy 9
  • 3 - Fitness Assessment 21
  • 4 - Physiology of Training 47
  • 5 - Motion Analysis and Physiological Demands 59
  • 6 - Nutrition 73
  • 7 - Different Populations 96
  • Part 2 - Biomechanics and Soccer Medicine 107
  • 8 - Biomechanics Applied to Soccer Skills 109
  • References 118
  • 9 - The Biomechanics of Soccer Surfaces and Equipment 120
  • 10 - Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation 136
  • 11 - Psychology and Injury in Soccer 148
  • 12 - Environmental Stress 165
  • Part 3 - Behavioural Science and Soccer 185
  • 13 - Coaching Science and Soccer 187
  • 14 - Skill Acquisition 198
  • 15 - Stress, Performance and Motivation Theory 214
  • References 227
  • 16 - Soccer Violence 230
  • Part 4 - Match Analysis 243
  • 17 - Notational Analysis 245
  • 18 - The Science of Match Analysis 265
  • 19 - Information Technology 276
  • References 283
  • Part 5 - Growth and Adolescence 285
  • 20 - Growth and Maturity Status of Young Soccer Players 287
  • 21 - Identifying Talented Players 307
  • Index 327
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