Integrating specificity and generality of practice to enrich children's learning in sport

ROTHWELL, Martyn, RUDD, James and DAVIDS, Keith (2022). Integrating specificity and generality of practice to enrich children's learning in sport. In: TOMS, Martin and JEANES, Ruth, (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Coaching Children in Sport. Routledge, 284-292.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003199359-31
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    Abstract

    Participation and high-performance sport systems have seen a shift towards early identification and selection of children into specialised training pathways in a single sport. The value of such sport systems continues to stimulate debate amongst academics and practitioners, highlighting the issues captured by the longstanding specificity versus generality of practice dualism. Specificity of practice involves learners engaging in repetitious practice of movement techniques in dedicated performance contexts in a targeted sport. Generality of practice concerns providing learners with variable practice conditions (structured and unstructured learning experiences in different sports) to develop a repertoire of functional movement skills which can interact with later specialised training to enhance talent. This chapter critically evaluates the traditional approach of viewing specificity and generality of practice as counter-positioned. Rather, we suggest the need to redress the imbalance that has emerged over the past 100 years in understanding how specific and general practice experiences can complement children's skills and talent development in sports. We outline an ecological dynamics rationale proposing the need for coaches to adopt a more nuanced balance between specificity and generality of practice, with both types of experiences being important at the right time in a child's development. Movement experiences can exist on a continuum of practice designs which children could be (re)located upon, depending on individual learning needs. Finally, we discuss how key principles of contemporary models of motor learning can be implemented by coaches and sports teachers integrating both types of practice experiences to satisfy the development needs of each child, whether seeking to specialise in sport on an elite pathway or to maintain long term recreational participation in sport and exercise from a health and wellbeing standpoint.

    Item Type: Book Section
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003199359-31
    Page Range: 284-292
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2022 15:50
    Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 15:50
    URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31012

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