The future of skill acquisition in UK Sport

Paul Ford, Oliver Runswick, Danny Powell

Research output: Contribution to conference typesAbstractpeer-review


Skill acquisition research and theory is currently a large knowledge base, and it continues to expand and evolve along with its related areas of motor learning, motor control, expert performance, and pedagogy. The knowledge base is highly practical, addressing key real-word variables for sports coaches, athletes, administrators, and other sports scientists. Several academics and “pracademics” believe that this knowledge base is sufficient to warrant skill acquisition being fully recognised as a key independent area of knowledge and to have specialist support staff in this area working across sport. In this session, we will discuss these beliefs and present recent developments that seek to move the area towards these goals in the United Kingdom (UK). This plenary discussion session will begin with three short presentations. First, Dr Paul R. Ford will detail the current state and issues facing the skill acquisition field in sport in the UK, if and as it seeks to become further recognised as a key independent area of knowledge that has many specialist support staff in sport. Second, Dr Danny Powell will provide perspective on the role of coach education in embedding skill acquisition research and theory into UK sport. He will detail recent research that evaluated the effects on coaching practice of a six-week online skill acquisition development intervention with two senior coaches from British Para Swimming. Data from observations and interviews will be presented from before and after the intervention showing coaching practice became more aligned with scientific recommendations in key areas of the knowledge base. The third presentation will detail ESAN’s response to the current position of skill acquisition in the UK. Dr Oliver R. Runswick will outline the new Skill Acquisition Special Interest Group within The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) - the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK. He will briefly detail the BASES accreditation framework and highlight future research that will develop new information on the competencies and knowledge that skill acquisition support staff should possess, which will potentially be used in the future development and accreditation of new specialists. Following these presentations, an open discussion involving a panel of key stakeholders will be held about the information in and topics of these presentations and, more generally, about the position and future of skill acquisition in sport in the UK and beyond. Attendees are encouraged to contribute to this discussion session with their own views, knowledge, and experiences on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2023
EventExpertise and Skill Acquisition Network - Manchester
Duration: 17 May 202318 May 2023


ConferenceExpertise and Skill Acquisition Network


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