The Process Approach to Understanding Human Motor Behavior: An Introduction
J. A. Scott Kelso Haskins Laboratories and The University of Connecticut
What is your conceptualization of skilled behavior? What does the word "skill" mean to you? Think about what processes underlie the exquisite coordination and timing of the ballerina, the perfectly executed pass from quarterback to wide receiver, the speed and gracefulness of a Pelé, the anticipation of a Mohammed Ali, the precision of a pianist. We all can recognize the outcome or the product of highly skilled performance, but how does this outcome materialize? What processes underlie the acquisition of skill and the control of movement? This is the overriding question that we are going to examine in some depth in the following chapters, and one that not only myself but my fellow contributors place at the forefront.
Throughout this discourse we make an implicit assumption. Namely, that striving to understand the underlying processes in acquiring skill will enable you--as students and teachers--to analyze situations in which you are confronted with a problem related to movement behavior. It may be a child who has difficulty in learning simple skills, a patient who is learning to use a prosthetic device such as an artificial limb, a skilled performer in an athletic team who, for some reason, is not performing as well as he/she might. Whatever the case, we are assuming some intrinsic benefits to you arising from a fuller understanding of what goes on when people learn skills.