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Chapter 34

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3480
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 34 – Skill Acquisition  "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle Expert Skill  Research shows that the best athletes are distinguished from other performers because of their perceptual-cognitive development. Such development only comes from practice and training  Effortful, repetitive practice coupled with the intention and determination to improve promotes the development of superior perceptual-cognitive capabilities and functional knowledge  The development of expert skills depends upon successful passage through three psychological stages: the cognitive, the associative, and the autonomous stages  Cognitive Stage o Athlete acquires knowledge of the task and how the skill is to be performed o Coaches verbally describe the skill and demonstrate what has to be done. In turn, the athlete must listen, watch, and then construct a mental representation or image of the movements involved in the skill o Many errors will occur and different techniques will be tried, abandoned, retained, and modified to produce a smoother but still rough flow of actions. This stage is more or less complete when the proper movements can be reasonably executed, practiced, and expanded  Associative Stage o Movements are practiced to a high level of accuracy and consistency without having to be explicitly or visually attended to o Proprioceptive cues, or sensory feelings, in the hands and legs are processed effectively and skillfully o Lasts much longer than the cognitive stage, often lasting months or years. Many athl
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