Skill Acquisition: Theory and Application

The details
Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
18 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MSC C6S612 Strength and Conditioning,
MSC C6S624 Strength and Conditioning

Module description

Skill acquisition is commonly described as the voluntary control over movements in an attempt to solve motor skill problems and achieve a task goal. These may vary from catching a ball or riding a bike, to slalom skiing or rhythmic gymnastics. Regardless of the domain, the interaction between the practitioner (e.g., coach) and athlete when learning these skills is absolutely fundamental to successful performance. Specifically, how can the practitioner create optimal practice conditions to facilitate skill acquisition?

This module will firstly enhance your understanding of contemporary theory and research in skill learning and motor expertise. From this, the module takes on a more applied focus, where evidence-based approaches are synthesised to critically evaluate their effect on coaching practice.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To enhance your critical understanding of contemporary theory, research, and practice in skill learning and motor expertise in sport.

  • To cover different evidence-based techniques to enable practitioners to apply this knowledge to facilitate skill acquisition in their athletes.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Identify and explain theories relating to learning, motor control, and expertise in sport.

  2. Critically evaluate key concepts and research across the skill acquisition literature.

  3. Design and deliver strength and conditioning sessions in line with theoretical principles relating to the practice environment.

  4. Critically evaluate coaching practice.

Module information

Indicative syllabus:

  • The 3 'Ws' (what, why and who) of skill acquisition.

  • Theories of learning.

  • Theories of motor control.

  • Understanding learning styles.

  • When, what, and how of feedback.

  • Focus of attention.

  • Adaptive instructional design.

  • Non-linear pedagogy.

  • Representative practice design.

  • Critical evaluation of coaching practice.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Two 2.5-hour face-to-face practical sessions.
  • Ten 1-hour online asynchronous recorded lectures.
  • Five 2-hour online synchronous seminars every other week to discuss biweekly topics to consolidate teaching content.
  • Two 1-hour online synchronous drop-in sessions.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Practical Coaching Observation    30% 
Coursework   Coaching Plan     

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Emily Cushion, email:
SRES Office, email: sres (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Dr Thomas Ian Gee
University of Lincoln
Associate Professor in Strength and Conditioning
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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