SKILL ANALYSIS: WHY THE PREOCCUPATION WITH ELITE PERFORMANCE?

  • R.H. Sanders

Abstract

One of the main functions of sports biomechanists is to analyse specific sports skills to learn how humans achieve optimal performance in those skills. The knowledge gained may then be applied by coaches to improve performance and the rate of skill acquisition. To determine characteristics of optimal performance it is necessary to study the performances of those who come as close as possible to optimal performance - the elite. While it is acknowledged that analysis of elite performance is necessary to learn about what constitutes optimal performance, it is suggested that this is not necessarily sufficient. Therefore, the tendency to study elite performance in isolation of sub-elite performance is questioned. Advantages of including sub-elite performers in analyses of sports skills are elucidated using examples from the research literature. It is argued that by including sub-elite performers, factors that distinguish elite from sub-elite performance are clearly identified, and there is increased learning about the process of skill acquisition.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities