Thursday, 14 February 2013

Skills are unique actions that are performed to complete a task; they can be learnt then adapted to become original and personal to help the individual complete a task with as much ease as possible. Skills are believed to be learnt through information processing models, specifically Whiting’s and Welford’s models. These two models have been most popularly used over the years to design sessions to teach skills and to put across the argument and to prove how skills are learnt.

Welford’s Information Processing Model 1968

Welford’s model goes through the idea that to perform a new skill of a task we take in all the information around us possible that can effect performing the skill; then we prioritise the information and decide whether the information is useful to the situation and if is it is stored within the short-term memory. Once the information is in the short-term memory we compare the information to relevant information in the long-term memory for example pieces of information that may have been useful in a situation similar then a decision is made how to ‘go about’ completing the skill; once this is complete the information is then stored in the long-term memory for future use in a similar situation then the who process starts again when challenged again.

Whiting’s Information Processing Model 1969

Whiting’s model portrays exactly the same idea as Welford’s model but just categorises it differently. Whiting splits up the process into three sections; the first section is Perceptual Mechanisms, this is where the bodies senses takes in all the various pieces of information from its surroundings. The next section is the Translator Mechanisms, this is where the body and the brain decide on what they are going to do with the information it has taken in and it decides how it want to perform a specific task. The final section is the Effector Mechanisms, this is when the muscular system acts upon the decision made from the information inputted through the senses.

With both Welford's and Whiting's models when performing a skill you will notice Intrinsic and Extrinsic feedback; this is the feedback that alerts you when you have successfully completed a task. Intrinsic feedback is when you personally feel the success of the skill such as in your movement, muscles and joints; an example of this would be when kicking a ball in football when you feel the connection with the ball you know if it was a success or not through muscle sensory. Extrinsic feedback is when you can see the positive outcome of your skill in nature; for example in football seeing the ball you kick travel to a specific area you want the ball to go to or if you are passing to a team mate the ball reaching them.

When performing a skill you need to take in information or stimuli to be able to make a decision on how to go about performing the specific skill, this is explained through the information processing models. A person’s reaction time is very specific to performing a skill especially in a sporting environment for example; deciding what pass to make at a specific time as a quarterback in NFL could be the difference between completing the pass leading to a touchdown or having the ball intercepted. Reaction times are measured from the sign of the first stimulus taken in, to the end of the action performed such as the movement of a team mate’s leg to pass the ball then the end is when you have finished controlling the ball.

Hick's Law 
Hicks Law explains that the more stimuli there are to effect your decision making, the longer it will take to react to the situation. An example of this would be in rugby when passing a ball to a team mate if you had to take in the stimuli of your team mates run, if they are ready to receive the ball, opposition around your team mate and opposition trying to tackle you it will take you longer to decide when to pass the ball as you have to consider all those areas.


There are certain areas that effect reaction time such as Age, Sex, Experience, Levels of ability and Anticipation responses. Age effects reaction times because once it has reached its peak as it develops when growing into an adult, as you get older it slowly deteriorates reducing reaction times. Sex effects your reaction times as males have naturally faster rates of reaction but their reaction times deteriorate at a faster rate. Experience plays a big part to reaction times as if you are used to performing the same skill and it is continuously in the same situation with the same stimuli muscle memory will build and you will naturally become faster; for example as a boxer if you continuously train blocking or moving out the way of a right hook, when it comes to a situation in a fight where your opposition throws a right hook you will react to the stimuli at a faster rate. Anticipatory responses can improve your reaction times as they are planning the action that you are going to perform because you are pre-determing the stimuli; an example of this is when a sprinter will try to anticipate the ‘B of the Bang’ of the gun to start the race creating a faster reaction time, on the other hand this can have a negative effect on performance as if you do not anticipate the start of the race correctly you will false start and be disqualified.

When you have learnt a skill to continue to be able to perform that skill again the information collected to perform the skill has to be stored in your memory. You have two different types of memory; you have your Short Term Memory (STM) and your Long Term Memory (LTM). When you start to learn a new skill or decide what to do in a new situation your body takes in the surrounding stimuli into your Short Term Sensory Store (STSS) for example if you were deciding when to pass the ball in football it would be things such as people around you, the weather, the pitch standard, where you are on the pitch, where the opposition is and where your team mates are; this information stays in the area for only a matter of seconds and then it is separated into useful information and non-useful information. The information that is not specifically vital to completing the skill is discarded then the information you are going to use is moved on to the STM. The STM has a limited capacity and can only store a certain amount of information, as the information builds up when the STM gets full the information is used then passed on to the LTM, in the STM is where decisions are made. The LTM potentially has an unlimited capacity of being able to store information; the LTM stores relevant information from throughout our lives and is recalled and used when we enter similar situations an example of this could be when in football when a player takes a free kick from a specific area on the pitch and it is successful when in roughly the same area again they will recall the information that helped them last time, information recalled from the long term memory helps us make decisions at a faster rate as we relate the information and have potentially experienced it before.
Leading on from memory and stimuli, as we get better at skills and develop our talents skills become easier to perform through selective attention. Selective attention is when we are making decisions on how to perform a skill by taking in various stimuli we only take in the stimuli that is beneficial to our situation and doesn’t even consider the information that will not benefit us. Continuously training and improving your skills will help you be able to only pick out the necessary information to perform the skill which improves reaction times and speeds up the decision making process that can overall improve your performance in a game.


  1. Well basically, there are no basic sporting examples someone could look at to help them understand the models better. So basically, if you put in some basic sporting examples, it would basically make the basic page into a helpful piece of knowledge. Thanks

  2. Can't believe people have actually read this! I wrote this in my first year of HND Sport Science & Exercise. Only reason was posted as was requested to by my lecturer