Information processing during the performance of skills in physical activity

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Welford's Model

  • Welford's model suggests that we take information through our sences and temporary store before sorting. 
  • Relevanrt inputs are stored in short-term memory.
  • Action and results are stored for future reference
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Whiting's Model

There are three stages in this model

  • Perceptual mechanisms
  • Translator mechanisms
  • Effector mechanisms
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Part Practice

The learner must see the whole skill demonstrated prior to learning. 

Characteristic: Working on perfecting isolated sub-routines; once the sub-routines are perfected, they are put back together. 

Example: Swimming - practicing body position, leg action then breathing separately then putting them together, 

Advantages: Great for maintaining motivation

                   Focuses on specific elements

                   Good for complicated skills

Disadvantages: Takes longer than other methods 

                       Transferring the parts back into the whole can be difficult

                       Learners can lose kinaesthetic sense and flow of the skill

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Whole Practice

Ideallly all skills should be taught using this method

Characteristic: This skill is learned in its complete form without being broken down into sub-routines

Example: Javelin throw


  • Good for skills high in organisation or continuous; low in complexity
  • Allows the learner to get the flow & timing (kinaesthesis) of the skill 
  • Helps the learner understnad the movement
  • Can be quicker than other methods / good for ballistic skills


  • Unsuitable for people with low attention spans
  • High complex skills taught by using this is dangerous and frustrating for the performer
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Progressive Practice

Sometimes known as chaining

Characteristic: Learn parts in isolation, then they are linked together to form larger parts before being combined to form the final skill. 

Example: Gymnastic floor routine, triple jump, lay-up shot in basketball 


  • Goood for complex skillss as it reduced information load
  • Good for skills low in organisation; serial skills
  • Helps the flow of the skill and can also help the transfer of sub-routines into the whole skill. 


  • Slow process as it involves teaching in parts then practising. 
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Whole-part-whole pracice

Characteristc: learner tries the whole skill first to get the feel of the performance. Teacher then identifies the weak parts of the skill which are then practised in isolation. Once the weak parts are perfected, the whole skill is tried again. 

Example: Tennis serve - coach identifies that the ball is tossed up high enough and practises/perfects this before returning to the whole skill. 


  • Learner gets a feel for the skill (kinesthetics) 
  • Allows weak parts to be processed in isolation


  • Not suitable for dangerous skills
  • Not suitable for skills which cannot be broken down
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Cognitive phase of learning


Initial first phase: Demonstations and verbal explanations are important as the learner tries to for an accurate mental picture of the skill.


Teacher demonstrates overhead clear in badminton and explains the coaching points to the learner. This enables learner to form a mental picture of the skill.


External feedback important. Positive feedback is used to reinforce successes. Specific feedback used to correct errors. 

The performer will make many mistakes before schema will improve phase. 

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Associative phase of learning


Practice / second phase. This phase is usually usually longer than the cognitive phase and some learners never progress past this phase. In this phase, the learner begins to eliminate mistakes and errors are fewer. Learner begins to use internal feedback. 


1: Learner has a good mental picture of the overhead clear and practises it. 

2: The clear goees high and over the net. 

3: Teacher praises the learner for getting the shuttle over the net 

4: The learner is told to focus on getting the shuttle to the back tramlines. 

5: Learner starts to know what aspects of the clear which are wrong without being told by the teacher. 

6: They try to correct these mistakes 

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Autonomous phase of learning

Characteristics: After much practise, the learner can execute the skill with minimum conscious thought and can focus on other factors. The motor programmehas been established and stored into the long term memory; it has been 'groomed' or overlearned. 

Example: Learner is now able to focus on where on the court to place the shuttle in relation to their opponent's position. 

Feedback: Greater use of internal/intrinsic feedback. External feedback is used to highlight errors and to maintain improvement. 

'Master phase'. Skill has been perfected but performer will still make very few mistakes. 

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