Part A: Theoretical
Skill acquisition is the practice of learning and acquiring new skills. Skill acquisition takes into count a copious amount of stages in order to successfully coerce a motor skill. These stages include breaking down components into classifications such as motor class (fine and gross), environmental factors (open and closed) and skill classification according to where skills begin and end (discreet, continuous and serial). Once the aspects are utilised and there is an understanding of the skill, it becomes necessary to examine the level of skill one has obtained. These levels include the cognitive stage, the associative stage and the autonomous stage.
The cognitive stage of learning is characterised by thinking and trying to understand the skill. In this stage the learner forms a cognitive picture of skill and what is required to do. A large extent of thought is required to work through the technical necessities of the skill. As a result, the movements in the stage are halting and poorly timed with numerous amount of errors. With regular practice in this stage a learner’s proficiency will improve rapidly. The time spent in the cognitive stage is usually brief. Once the individual has a basic idea of the patterns and movement, even with mistakes, they have entered the next stage of learning, the associative stage. In this stage the learner will examine the skill in more detail and, with practice, refine the skill to perform successfully. After much practice in the associative phase, a skill becomes habitual. The neural pathways are complete and no mental effort is required to perform the skill in the game (Oxford press 2011). This is the autonomous stage. Once learners have reached the autonomous stag, they may fluctuate between associative and autonomous stages. Learning does not stop and practice must remain to uphold ability.
In a game of Australian Rules football there are numerous skills that need to be taken into count. Some of these skills consist of kicking the football, handballing, tackling, shepherding and dodging. The skill that is being assessed is kicking as kicking in a major skill in the game of AFL. It is essential for an athlete to be in the associative stage of learning in relation to kicking to be able to successfully play a game of AFL football. The best outcome in result of learning this skill is to be in the highest stage of ability, autonomous.
Various psychological aspects impact skill development dramatically. Verbal and physical response is imperative for accurate motor skill improvement, regardless of the stage of acquisition or age of the learner. Feedback gives the learner an idea of where they are in the learning process and what they need to improve on. There are two types of feedback, internal and external. Internal feedback is information received from the senses as a result of movement or self-talk (Charles Sturt University, 2014). This helps athletes develop a sense or feel for a movement which allows them to distinguish between a skilled or less skilled performance. For example, when kicking a football, the athlete feels the ball in their hands and is aware of the ball leaving the hand as they can see, feel and hear it moving through the air and being caught by another player. External feedback is information received from external sources (outside the body) such as the crowd reaction, opposition, coach, taped performances, judge’s scores, race results or the environment.
Arousal refers to the physical changes that take place when a person is aroused, such as increased pulse, greater alertness, and more energy (Mac,2014). People are driven to perform actions in order to maintain an optimum level of physiological arousal. In order to be at an optimum level of arousal, an athlete must not be over aroused or under aroused. Both over-arousal and under-arousal can contribute to poor performance.
Mental rehearsal and concentration are