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Module JXH-3050:
Skill Acquisition

Module Facts

Run by School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gavin Lawrence

Overall aims and purpose

Success in sport depends upon an athlete’s ability to develop and perfect a specific, and often unique, set of perceptual and motor skills. The so-called 10, 000 hr rule suggests it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to attain these skills and reach an expert level. In this course, we will apply the critical role of practice and instruction into the learning of skills so we can understand how to coach adults (in sport and business) and children towards expertise much faster than 10,000 hrs or 10 years. Throughout the course, we will address the implications of current expertise research on the coaching of instruction, practice, and feedback. When doing this we will make connections between core science and the practical experience of the course leaders work with Elite Sport (e.g., UK Sport), to map out which practice environments lead towards both faster learning and excellent sporting performance.

Course content

The course is delivered by two Talent Development scientists that work with leading sports organisations (e.g., UK Sport, The England and Wales Cricket Board, Welsh Basketball). In addition, one of the course lecturers is a qualified Level 3 (UKCC) Coach (and currently working towards level 4). Broadly speaking, the course is divided into three parts, namely, ‘instructions and demonstrations, ‘optimising practice environments’, and ‘delivering feedback’. In the opening section, we will address issues related to delivering instructions and providing effective demonstrations. In the second part, optimising practice environments, aspects surrounding variability, challenge, pressure, and multiple skill learning will be addressed. In the final section, delivering feedback, we will discuss considerations for how and when the frequency, timing, and detail of corrective feedback should be provided. All of these sections have implications for how information and practice should be structured and organised to bring about effective learning and expertise development. Considerations regarding how task difficulty and expertise level impact on the effective development of expertise will be a central theme to all three sections.

Assessment Criteria


students should be able to present an outstanding in-depth critical discussion of the underlying theories and current research related to any 2 of the following; the delivery of instruction, structuring the practice environment and the delivery of feedback. They will be able to use their deep understanding to demonstrate how theories surrounding any 2 of these topics can inform good practice, in addition to clearly explaining how the issues/topics discussed are dependent on task factors and skill level, how they are inter-related, and how they can affect the learning environment.


students should be able to demonstrate an adequate or basic understanding of the underlying theories of any 2 of the following; the delivery of instruction, structuring the practice environment and the delivery of feedback whilst revealing how some of this might be used to inform practice. They will be able to demonstrate to an adequate level how at least one of the above factors can be manipulated to affect learning and show an understanding of how some of the issues/topics discussed are inter-related. There may also be occasional inaccuracies and irrelevant content.

C- to C+

students should be able to present a good discussion of the underlying theories and research related to any 2 of the following; the delivery of instruction, structuring the practice environment and the delivery of feedback. They will be able to use their understanding to demonstrate how some of these factors in the learning environment can be effectively manipulated to inform good practice and provide basic explanations as to how the issues/topics discussed are inter-related.


students should be able to present an in-depth very good discussion of the underlying theories and current research related to any 2 of the following; the delivery of instruction, structuring the practice environment and the delivery of feedback. They will be able to use their understanding to demonstrate how any 2 of these factors can be effectively manipulated to inform good practice, whilst explaining how the issues/topics are inter-related and dependent on task factors and skill level.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand underlying theories of skill aquisition and explain how they can inform practice.

  2. Demonstrate how aspects of learning environment can be effectively manipulated.

  3. Identify learning challenges of coach and athlete.

  4. Apply skill acquisition techniques to the coaching process.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Summative assignment I

This assignment requires you to complete a 600 word coaching essay on the lecture material covered on the conveying information aspect of the coaching process. Based on the principles you have learned in class and from the additional readings devise a coaching essay aimed towards using the principles, theories, and literature within conveying information to optimise the skill acquisition in a sport of your choice. Remember you are free to choose the sport, the goal of the coaching session(s), the skills to be practiced and the level of your learner(s).

You should provide clear rationales, which should be supported by evidence from the literature, for any decisions you make in relation to the acquisition of skill(s) in your chosen sport.

COURSEWORK Summative assignment II

Based on your understanding of the literature and the group discussions and readings, design and produce a coaching essay for a sport of your choice. You should include the structuring practice and feedback aspects of the skill acquisition/coaching process we have covered. You should present empirical evidence to support your rationale(s) with specific reference to the pertinent literature. Remember, you may feel that not all aspects within the structuring practice and providing feedback topics are relevant to your chosen sport and to-be-learned skill(s). In such situations you must briefly describe why (again using literature to support your rationales).


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Reading time, preparing and completing assessments


Class time will consist of a combination of lectures, individual exercises, group discussions and formative assignment practice


Transferable skills

  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • research and assess paradigms, theories, principles, concepts and factual information, and apply such skills in explaining and solving problems
  • critically assess and evaluate data and evidence in the context of research methodologies and data sources
  • describe, synthesise, interpret, analyse and evaluate information and data relevant to a professional or vocational context
  • plan, design, execute and communicate a sustained piece of independent intellectual work, which provides evidence of critical engagement with, and interpretation of, appropriate data
  • apply knowledge to the solution of familiar and unfamiliar problems
  • develop a sustained reasoned argument, perhaps challenging previously held assumptions
  • demonstrate effective written and/or oral communication and presentation skills
  • work effectively independently and with others
  • take and demonstrate responsibility for their own learning and continuing personal and professional development
  • self-appraise and reflect on practice
  • demonstrate evidence of competence in the scientific methods of enquiry, and interpretation and analysis of relevant data and statistical outputs.
  • develop transferable skills of relevance to careers outside of sport, health and exercise sciences.
  • communicate succinctly at a level appropriate to different audiences.
  • develop justifiable and/or evidence-based interventions
  • develop effective learning aids


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: