All aspects of sport require learning. Although you may be talented and learn quickly, or the opposite and take longer to learn. ‘Learning is a more or less permanent change in performance brought about by experience’ Knapp 1973. You also need the experience as well as the skill to become an elite athlete. The theory also contradicts the quote “practices makes perfect”, Fitt’s and Posner’s theory is more like correct practice with correct technique makes perfect practice”. Fitt’s and Posner’s (1967) have introduced the three phases of learning to skill acquisition, these are, cognitive, associative and autonomous. The stage should be learnt in sequence each stage is designed for an amateur athlete start with the cognitive stage. A coach would design a training practice depending on the skill of the performer a raw athlete would start at cognitive and Once the skill has been perfected then the athlete can move on to the next stage.
Even though the theory sounds quite straight forward and you would presume an athlete would progress using this method there are some flaws. The repetition of the theory can be very tedious for the athlete, in consequence they may loose concentration which will effective their performance. Also if an athletes feedback is not correct then they performer would have been trained wrong once taught the method its very difficult to change this especially if it has been drilled in to the athlete.
The cognitive is the earliest stage of skill learning this involves the sportsperson understanding what they need to do to perform the skill. This phase includes a lot of trial and error as obviously beginners are not going to get everything right the first time, so they are either going to succeed or fail. At this stage the leaner will need feedback from their performance. All success or faults should be recognised at this stage or the learner will learn to do the skill incorrectly. This helps the performer to realise why failure occurred so they know what to avoid the next time they attempt it. When things are
performed correctly its important that they are recognised and that the performer is told that it is correct as this will give the him/her a positive attitude and make her less conscious if she is doing it right or not. Watching demonstrations by people that can do the movement correctly will help beginners to visualise the actions in their head, this is sometimes called mental rehearsal. If the coach or teacher is unable to perform the action someone who is capable to do it will be called into to show the group or individual. Just as easy it would be to video someone performing the action. Most sportswoman or men use this strategy when trying to learn something. It is when you picture image of the skill or event you are trying to learn in your head. You can also watch demonstrations by people that can also do the movement correctly. This way they can associate what their
doing with what they’ve seen.
Racket sports- e.g. tennis, as always the leaner will start on the cognitive stage. To learn the correct stance and just to hit the tennis ball, the leaner will see the visual standing with a clear stance. With his/her feet apart for balance and alert and waiting for the ball with the racket in the starting position by the side of player and ready. Once the ball has been hit towards his/her side of the net he/she will bring her arm backwards to get a swing and bring it back forward as the ball begins to drop this action will allow a hit up and over the net.
Individual sports- e.g. Gymnastics
For gymnastics the main key points are balance, co-ordination, and skill.
Learners watching someone performing gymnastics will notice the accuracy
and timing that the performer uses. An example would be, walking along a beam. The learner see an image of someone walking across the beam with no difficulties, with his/her with equally balanced, with a clear straight position with his/her head up, concentrating on were the performer is going.
The associative stage is the second stage of learning, and by this stage the learners have learnt the basic skills but are now trying to practise the skill they learnt whilst in the cognitive stage. Movements begin to look correct, and the more practises that occurs the better they are able to perform them. They learn how different movements relate to others. At this stage it is essential that the performer receive feedback form spectators or teachers watching their performance so that they can understand what they are doing right or wrong, so they can work out what to change. Positive feedback will let the performer know he/she is doing the movements right which in return will enhance their performance.
Negative feedback will correct them and let them know they are doing it wrong and that they need to correct things so they will learn to do them correctly. “The need for information feedback in improving and sustaining performance, or in three repeatedly demonstrated empirical effects: performance fails to improve unless information feedback is introduced; performance improves with information feedback; and performance either deteriorates if information feedback is withdrawn, or shows no further improvement.” (I. McD. Bilodeau, 1969). Sometimes learners will return to cognitive stage to make sure they are performing the basic skills correctly. This is also the stage where motor programmes are formed motor programme is where a sequence of movements is stored in the long-term memory of the performer and this information can be retrieved at any time.
Racket sports- Tennis
Now the leaner has learnt to stand and hit the ball he/she will
now focus on ways of making the performance better, less errors etc, etc. This is the vital stage at when the learner needs feedback, so that they can work on their faults and recognise the things they are doing correctly. No difficult skills should be taught such as drop shot or spins balls, maybe introduce volleys, and the smash to their game.
Individual sport- Gymnastics
The gymnast at this stage will also be working on the quality of performance and needs help doing this, again, from feedback. Once the feedback is given the learner may notice
things that were being done wrong that he/she had not noticed before.
The autonomous stage, is the final phase of the skill learning process. Movements are made without mental planning, almost automatic and this is only obtained after much practise and quality repetition Mistakes may still be made but at this stage the performer will be able to recognise his own mistake and say what was done wrong, why he/she did it wrong and how he/she can do it right. The movements are performed fluently with no conscious thought about them being wrong. Movements appear automatic and seem to come effortlessly. “An expert can represent problems in terms of their abstracts. This is easier method store and to represent problems” (Anderson. J. R, 1995).
If practise is not continued whilst at this stage the performer may return to the associative stage. Not all performers reach this stage in all skills.