Skill acquisition in sport: some applications of an evolving practice ecology

J Sports Sci. 1997 Dec;15(6):621-40. doi: 10.1080/026404197367056.


This paper builds on recent theoretical concerns regarding traditional conceptualizations of the skill acquisition process. The implications for the process of practice in sport contexts are explored with reference to the information-processing approach to motor behaviour and the newer ecological paradigm. Issues are raised with current principles of practice based on traditional theoretical ideas. A practice strategy that gives greater weight to the guided exploration of the practice workspace jointly defined by the properties of the individual's subsystems, the specific task and the environment is advocated. Such a constraints-led perspective supersedes previous distinctions between rudimentary and voluntary skills. Sports scientists, coaches, teachers and movement rehabilitation therapists are invited to review current practices in the light of recent theoretical advances from the ecological perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Sports / education
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis