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UK Coaching Team
Talent and Performance Improving Physical Ability

Learning to Move Skilfully: Nonlinear Stages of Learning Movement Skills

In the second of a four-part series, UK Coaching Senior Coach Developer Marianne Davies provides a detailed summary of the phases of skill development

The stages of learning movement skills are based on Newell’s model of motor learning (1985) which recognises that humans are complex adaptive systems.

Because humans are complex, and not computers, the phases of development do not just follow a linear pathway. An athlete, or participant, will often be moving between them, sometimes having aspects of all of them in their performance as they develop their skills at ever higher levels.

Phase 1

Assembling coordination (Search for and discover movement solutions)

Regardless of age or stage, during the first phase of movement skill learning the individual is looking to find movements that allow them to solve a problem. It might be to solve a completely new problem, or because the challenge or difficulty has been increased significantly.

For example, it might be to hit a smaller target successfully or balance on a skateboard for the first time.

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UK Coaching Team