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Skill Acquisition- How to Learn Anything!

Updated: Apr 9, 2023



Have you ever tried to learn a new skill?


Maybe it was juggling, a basketball free throw or tying a tie.


Learning a skill is a difficult process! But, if you know how to break down a skill, classify it and practice effectively, you can learning anything.


This is skill acquisition, and it is something that EVERYONE does all the time - in sport, school, work and life.


It is important to understand a skill before practicing it. This is called building a 'schema' in your mind about how the logistics of the skill actually works. This can be done by watching professionals doing it, followed by analysing the skill using the following key points:


  • Motor skills

  • Skill classification

  • Movement precision

  • Environmental influence

  • Difficulty continuum




Next, we move on to skill classification. This is useful for understanding the elements of the skill, how it actually works.






Once we've classified our skill, we can find out whether it is fine or gross. Both words have different meanings here. This refers to how many muscles or muscle groups are required to do the skill.





Once we understand what type of skill it is, we can begin to practice. We should always begin practicing in a closed environment and then move towards an open environment. Please note, that the word 'environment' doesn't just refer to the weather!





Lastly, we can start to compare the difficulty of different skills based on whether they are:

  • Discrete, serial or continuous

  • Fine or gross

  • Open or closed


There you go! That is skill classification. This is very useful for anyone learning any type of new skill. Here's the process we'd recommend to learn the skill quicker than the average person!


  1. Choose a skill

  2. Watch professionals doing the skill (To build schema or 'mental map')

  3. Analyse the skill

  4. Practice the skill starting in a closed environment (Be patient, you WILL make a lot of mistakes!)

  5. Keep practicing! It you are not improving, repeat steps 2 and 3.

  6. As you get better at the skill, try introducing an open environment (Examples: going from unopposed basketball free throw to a passive defender)

  7. Keep practicing until you master the skill! You can always improve the execution of a skill, even if you are the best in the world!


And that is how you learning anything, quickly!


What next? Try these skills if you want to put this into practice!



Good luck and happy practicing!



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Thanks legends!


Mr D, your online PE Buddy


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Skill acquisition is well broken down in this article. Even through practice, mistakes will be made. Young people today are putting such high expectations on themselves, because they haven't been able to complete the skill before and therefore, they don't try. But ensuring that it is ok to make mistakes and having each skill broken down will provide higher level of participation when introducing or continuing to develop skills.

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