Essay on Motor Skills

Published: 2021/11/16
Number of words: 1610

Motor skills retention and acquisition facilitated by neuroplasticity is of particular importance to athletes. Well-coordinated movements of the muscles such as free throws, putting and batting are what is referred to as motor skills. Learning of motor skill is described as a process in which movements are characteristically performed with precision and rapidly with practice. The acquisition of motor skills takes place after putting together multiple strings of training sessions until a peak of performance is reached. Learning involves two phases: A slow phase and a fast phase. The former involves small, firm improvements that become better over numerous training sessions, then gradually reaching a plateau. The latter includes improvements which are rapid over a single practice session (Covaci et al., 2014).

The hypothetical athlete that the study will utilize is American pro basketball player, Stephen Curry, who plays for the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The motor skill that the current study wishes to teach Stephen Curry is the manipulative skills that involve dribbling, throwing, overhand throw, catching and underhand roll. The manipulative skills being taught are open motor skills since the skills are being performed in an unstable environment since the environment determines the start point. The person conducting the skill, in other words, does not choose the execution time of the skills and movements. The environment and other people make the decision.

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Since basketball is a team-based sport, actions and movements are ordinarily determined by your team members and the opposing team members with additional environmental factors influence. This is unlike individual games which are influenced by factors such as terrain and wind speed. An environment that is ever-changing in basketball needs adaptability such as when attacking players approach the rim and when players defend offensive sets. On the hand, a closed motor skill allows players to strategize in advance since they can better predict their stable environment. The closed motor skill is the right place for a novice to start from and perform. As the current study endeavours to teach Stephen Curry the motor skills holistically, we would begin teaching a closed skill before progression to more demanding open skill techniques (Renshaw et al., 2010).

The classification of movements with regard to the specificity of the start and endpoint of a motor skill conjures continuous, serial and discrete skills. Skills which are discrete (e.g. turning on a lamp) are mostly brief and have a distinct start and endpoint. Serial skills (e.g. combination lock opening) offer more complexity and require a person to perform movements in a well-defined order to realize the desired goal. Continuous skills (e.g. driving a car) involve actions which do not have a distinct and clear beginning and end and are more often than not repetitive. The motor skills the study wishes to teach Stephen Curry are continuous and are vital when trying to perform skills which are more complex in basketball.

For instance, a person who has never had a chance for a free throw shot, experiences learning-intensiveness the first time in training. This happens since the muscles are being coordinated in a different way than what they were accustomed. Cognitively, after the first practice session, the person is aware of the requirements for making the shot, though the person may not be good enough. In succeeding training sessions, the gradual process of accuracy gaining begins so that the body movements are matched by brain vision. Ultimately, a constant expertise level is reached.

Across an alternative axis, acquisition of motor skill can be divided into distinct stages apart from the fast and slow phases, i.e. retention and recall, consolidation and encoding. Encoding coincides with fast learning period. It is the process in which a motor skill is changed into a construct kept in mind from experience. Most of the times, encoding will take place online or during the interval of practice sessions. In comparison, consolidation of skill occurs offline or between the interlude in sessions of practice. An offline period that is vital for consolidation is sleep. Consolidation in the brain of skills learned primarily happens during sleep. Consolidation is treated as the middle ground between slow and fast learning. Retention is mostly associated with slow learning stage, during online and offline phases. As a consequence of retention, the athlete’s learned skill commits to muscle memory, and the athlete can retrieve this memory at will. The ability to execute a skill without conscious effort is what is referred to as muscle memory. For instance, makes Steph Curry makes everything on a basketball court seem so effortless, mainly how he shoots a free throw. This is enabled by multiple training sessions that have made that skill be recalled as muscle memory. Hence no much thought is required to make movements since the memory can be retrieved with ease (Park et al., 2011).

The brain’s different areas are highly utilized in each stage of learning. These areas include perceptual and visual regions of lower-levels to cortical areas of the highest order that synthesize and integrate information. Nonetheless, the M1 or the primary motor cortex is the brain area that is motor learning-specific. Voluntary movements that are initiated consciously are conducted in the primary motor cortex. During both the slow phase and fast phase of learning is the period when motor cortex is activated. It becomes less involved once the commitment of skill to muscle memory is achieved. The cerebellum, a place where the storage of subconscious motor memories occurs, is where activation switches to from the motor cortex. This is shown by the change in behaviour that happens when the improvement in motor skill occurs, i.e. no conscious reliance when performing the skill.

The activity, the environment and the person are the three fundamental factors that affect the performance of motor skills. A person represents the most crucial element of the three. The possession of abilities, talents and experiences which are unique by a person influences his/her performance levels. An individual who has had an advantageous socio-cultural background, maturation level that is satisfactory and who has an insatiable motivation to excel can perform at a higher level than someone who has not. This then translates to tailoring practice according to an individual.

The environment is the place where the practice is carried out. When teaching Stephen Curry how to shoot a free throw correctly, a controlled environment is the best place to begin to capture the focus of the athlete. Progressively, crowd noise simulation can be integrated into the training together with under pressure free throws. It is imperative for the player to practice in an environment that is similar to the one in reality. The activity is the final aspect that influences the performance of motor skills, and it is the performance of the desired action. Before the execution of an effort by an individual, it is essential to situation-analyze and comes up with the best outcome possible. In basketball, a task may be in the form of a jump shot, layup shooting and offensive movements. A player must quickly assess the situation and rapidly decide the best suitable time to make a score. The above principles are essential in the comprehension of motor behaviour. In the construction of plans for practice and drills for my hypothetical athlete, I will take into account these factors that influence performance.

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Scientists classify manipulative skills as the ones that are associated with small movements as those done through the use of the face, feet, wrists, hands and fingers (Magill, 2010). These movements in basketball are not very pronounced since the sport utilizes full-body movements, but they contribute mainly to the success of shooting and dribbling skills. Excellent manipulative motor skills are required for the difficult if not impossible task of shooting. Manipulative motor skills also involve gestures members of the same team make to each other in the course of a game. These gestures include motions of the hand to set screens for each other on attacking or alerting each other to set up defensive blocks. The skills are also at play when the point guard employs hand gestures to signal a teammate to make an offensive run.

Manipulative motor skills may not be perceptible to many, but their influence is paramount in skill execution. For the high-level performance of most basketball skills, manipulative motor skills are a requirement. Dribbling encompasses manipulative skills such as the running motion in addition to actions of the hand. But excellent manipulative motor skills (e.g. movement of the fingertips) in dribbling are a must in the performance of the action. Other skills are jumping action and motion of the hand of flicking the wrist that is used in the shooting. This study by Magill (2010) also advocates for the teaching of manipulative motor skills first in a closed environment and subsequently introducing complex environmental factors in play. The teaching method involves introducing the skill in the beginner level, then an intermediate level and eventually an advanced level where training sessions mimic game-like situations.


Covaci, A., Olivier, A. H. and Multon, F. (2014, November). Third-person view and guidance for more natural motor behaviour in immersive basketball playing. In Proceedings of the 20th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (pp. 55-64).

Magill, R. (2010). Motor learning and control. McGraw-Hill Publishing.

Park, I. S., Lee, K. J., Han, J. W., Lee, N. J., Lee, W. T. and Park, K. A. (2011). Basketball training increases striatum volume. Human movement science30(1), 56-62.

Renshaw, I., Davids, K. and Savelsbergh, G. J. (Eds.). (2010). Motor learning in practice: A constraints-led approach. Routledge.

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