Learning Motor Skills

These are learnt in a variety of different ways which include:

- making links between what we hear and what  we can do by practising

- using trial and error

- by observing others and copying them

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Practise and Rehearsal

It is common for people to practise such drills to encourage their movement to become more automatic. The responses of the learner become conditioned; when stimulated are automatic.

The problem with teaching a skill like this is that the participant does not gain understanding of the game as a whole which leads to further lack of understanding in difficult parts of the skill.

This process is more likely to succeed if there is positive reinforcements.

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Trial and Error of Motor Skills

This is sometimes called operand conditioning and involves shaping the behaviour through the use of reinforcement.

If a reward is in place, the learning is a lot quicker and therefore providing complete reinforcement. However, if only given after a certain number of correct techniques for example, this takes longer and is known as partial reinforcement.

This is an extremely successful way of completing a motor skill effectively.

Despite punishment forcing correct technique, it also results in anxiety, lack of motivation. Some say this suppresses the encouragement and will to do well.

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Copying Others - observational learning.

The correct technique is often learnt in social circumstances.

The person who's actions are being observed is the role model and this way of learning is often referred to as modelling.

-  Responce is spontaneous 

- This requires no thought of the role models half.

- Reinforcement is present but not in a way that is entirely direct.

Observational learning is not just about imitation; it is also about learning morals and values in social behaviour.

If the model's behiour is appropiate this will be copied by the participant trying to learn.

The relevance of the model's behaviour is very important. Men tend to be more aggressive.

More powerful role models are most likely to be imitated.

Consistency is likely to be copied.

This is also the case in sport as the leader is in authority, especially when dealing with children.

Many sports people often forget that they are being watched by many younger individuals who will copy their behaviour.

When teaching skills, demonstration is particularly important. They depend of the learners observation, motor reproduction and motivation to imitate the movement.


The attractiveness, competence and status of the role model will influence the amount of attention paid. The incentives that are present and the personal motivation of the character is also vital. This is the main problem when watching someone take out a skill.


There needs to be a mental picture kept of how the skill is done. Mental rehearsal will improve the reattainment of the skill in the head.


They must be practically able to imitate the skill whilst in play. This leads to intrinsic feedback.


The motivation of the observer needs to be high. External reinforcement from the model will increase the motivation.

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