Skill, Technique & Ability
A question often asked is what is the difference between skill, technique and ability?
What is a skill?
Skill is an athlete's ability to choose and perform the right techniques at the right time, successfully, regularly and with a minimum of effort. Athletes use their skill to achieve athletic objectives e.g. sprinting a 10.0 second 100 metres. Skill is acquired and therefore has to be learned.
Types of skills
Psychologists have categorised human behaviour into three broad domains:
What is Technique?
Techniques are the basic movements of any sport or event e.g. a block start in a 100 metre race is a technique. We combine a number of techniques into a pattern of movement e.g. triple jump - running and then the hop, step and jump phases.
Ability is the make up of an athlete that we inherit from our parents. Abilities underpin and contribute to skills. Abilities can be essentially perceptual, essentially motor or a combination of both. Most abilities to do with action are a combination and are referred to as psychomotor abilities. Now there is no definitive list of psychomotor abilities.
Stallings (1982) identified the following psychomotor abilities: Muscular power and endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination and differential relaxation (selective adjustment of muscle tension).
Fleishman (1972) identified the following nine psychomotor abilities (referred to as gross motor abilities): Extent flexibility, dynamic flexibility, explosive strength, static strength, dynamic strength, trunk strength, gross body coordination, gross body equilibrium and stamina.
If you are of average height, strong, good coordination and have an abundance of fast twitch fibres in your legs then you have the natural ability to be a sprinter.
Relationship between skill, ability and technique
SKILL = ABILITY + TECHNIQUE
The following references provide additional information on this topic:
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The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: