Skill and strategic control

Ellen Fridland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides an account of the strategic control involved in skilled action. When I discuss strategic control, I have in mind the practical goals, plans, and strategies that skilled agents use in order to specify, structure, and organize their skilled actions, which they have learned through practice. The idea is that skilled agents are better than novices not only at implementing the intentions that they have but also at forming the right intentions. More specifically, skilled agents are able formulate and modify, adjust and adapt their practical intentions in ways that are appropriate, effective, and flexible given their overall goals. Further, to specify the kind of action plans that are involved in strategic control, I’ll rely on empirical evidence concerning mental practice and mental imagery from sports psychology as well as evidence highlighting the systematic differences in the cognitive representations of skills between experts and non-experts. I’ll claim that, together, this evidence suggests that the intentions that structure skilled actions are practical and not theoretical, that is, that they are perceptual and motor and not abstract, amodal, or linguistic. Importantly, despite their grounded nature, these plans are still personal-level, deliberate, rational states. That is, the practical intentions used to specify and structure skilled actions are best conceived of as higher-order, motor-modal structures, which can be manipulated and used by the agent for the purpose of reasoning, deliberation, decision-making and, of course, the actual online structuring and organizing of action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5937-5964
Number of pages28
Issue number3-4
Early online date8 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Action schema
  • Intention
  • Motor schema
  • Practical intention
  • Skill
  • Strategic control


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