The aim of this lesson is to learn about skills, what they are, how they are classified and how our brains process the information required to perform them (Equivalent to UK GCSE Physical Education)

 The definition of a skill is:

"A learned ability to bring about the result you want, with maximum certainty and efficiency"

In other words, a skill:

  • Is learned
  • Has an end result
  • Should be performed under control
  • Should use the minimum amount of energy

Skills can be either basic or complex:


  • We learn a lot of basic skills at an early age
  • Basic skills are transferable between lots of different sports and situations
  • You have to master the basic skills before moving on to the complex skills
  • Examples of basic skills are running, hopping, dodging an opponent


  • These require more coordination and control
  • They tend to be specific to a particular sport (i.e. non-transferable)
  • They take a lot of practice to master
  • Examples of complex skills include a smash shot in badminton, a tennis serve or a volley in football

Skills can also be open, closed or somewhere inbetween!


  • An open skill is affected by external factors
  • For example a football pass will be affected by your position, the position of your opponents and your team mates as well as playing conditions e.g. wind/wet pitch etc


  • A closed skill is not really affected by the environment, or other people
  • For example in darts, the aim a lot of the time is for a triple 20 and there are few environmental factors to consider

In reality, most skills fall somewhere between open and closed. They can be shown as a continuum, with open at one end, closed at the other and everything else inbetween. An example of a skill in the middle is a badminton net shot. This is only affected by the position of your opponent and the shuttle when you reach it.

Pacing Continuum

Skills are classified by their pacing and can either be more towards the self paced side or the externally paced side of the continuum.

A Self paced skill is one where the rate at which they are performed is decided by the performer. This is more common in closed skills as there are no external factors that will force you into performing a skill before you are ready. An example would be an athlete deciding when to start their run up in long jump.

An Externally paced skill is one where other factors in the environment decide when you carry out a skilled action. An example would be a footballer being forced into passing due to the pressure exerted from an opposition player.

Gross/Fine Continuum

Skills can also be defined based on the muscles used to perform them. They will either be Gross skills or Fine skills.


Gross skill is one that uses large muscular contractions such as a tumble turn in swimming.

A Fine skill is one that uses very small muscular contractions such as throwing a dart