Skill instruction and practice often makes up the greater portion of any team training session, or individual training session closer to or during competition. When considering how to design a training session the allocation of time to specific skill related activities needs to be decided, along with how the activities will flow together for best development of the skill.
The selection of skill instruction and practice activities should be determined by the athletes’ stage of skill acquisition. Skill instruction usually includes demonstration of the skill, which may be broken down into its various parts before being combined to perform the entire complex skill. It is important to remember the content covered during Factors Affecting Performance here and specifically the content covered under: the learning environment, practice methods.
The provision of skill instruction should be short and to the point. The coach needs to be clear in its delivery giving both specific and useful instruction. This instruction for practice should be timed appropriately during the session, and where possible include demonstration.
Often the best method for practicing skills relevant for a particular sport is to play the sport. Modified games are used frequently to practice and teach skills as well as a love of a sport to children, and can become one of the best ways to continue to develop athletes who are autonomous. Various drills are also used in sport to develop specific skills that an athlete may need to develop. These drills can be done using both massed or distributed practice. Whichever is chosen the most important thing for skill development is frequent use.
Skill instruction and practice is essentially the backbone of training for any sport where the skill related components of fitness are relied upon. While a triathlete may spend some time of their technique for swimming, riding or running, it will not be the same amount of time as a sport such as rugby union, ice hockey, football or AFL spend on technique and skill development. These sports have a greater variety and emphasis on skill compared to sports that use predominantly health related components of fitness.