A skill is a learned ability. Its something you need to execute a task.
Learning any skill is easy but mastering a skill takes time, commitment and discipline.
Mastering a skill is what sets you apart from ordinary people.
It’s important for footballers to master football skills until they can be performed with quality and spontaneously.
It’s believed that it takes 10,000 hours of DELIBERATE practice before the age of 20 to master a skill, during that time, you the will have to go through the following stages;
Unskilled, Unconscious; In this stage of skill acquisition, you have no idea about the skill and how its executed.
It’s safe to say that you are ignorant about it. If you do it then chances are that it’s done by mistake and can’t be sustained.
Before teaching players the steps of how to pass the ball, most of them will play football and perform the skill.
The passing is poor quality and players are unconscious of the right steps required to execute a proper pass.
Unskilled, Conscious; This’ the second stage of skill acquisition.
Now we assume players have been taught how to pass the ball.
Players will have classroom lessons and gain consciousness of the steps required to pass the ball like; making eye contact with the recipient, non-kicking foot standing beside the ball, pointing where you intend to pass, following through with the foot that strikes the ball and the other steps required when passing the ball.
In this stage of skill acquisition, you will know what is required to perform a skill but won’t be skilled to pull it off because you haven’t yet practiced enough.
In some cases, the skill is performed but under little or no pressure at all.
Expect a lot of mistakes in this stage
Skilled, Conscious; This’ the third stage of skill acquisition. In this stage you know how to execute the skill, you know what it takes to pull it off and that is what mainly preoccupies your mind.
During practice, you get static every time you miss a step or whenever you make a mistake you instantly recognize why/how you made the mistake.
You are conscious. The brain knows what you need to do but the body/muscles are yet to synchronize with messages from the brain.
This stage of skill acquisition requires a lot of positive feedback from coaches and peers.
Skilled, Unconscious; This’ the last stage of skill acquisition. In this stage, you can execute a skill like passing the ball, you do it so well to a point that you don’t have to think (unconscious) about the steps required.
At this stage every step in skill execution is spontaneous.
Eye contact before passing the ball is now shorter, the non-kicking foot easily gets besides the ball in the required distance, the non-kicking foot points very well while passing the ball.
At this stage, mistakes are treated as a one-off but with disappointment in yourself.
Most footballers don’t get to the last stage of skill acquisition mainly because of poor coaching standards.
Young footballers should be taught skills in a no-pressure environment to give a high chance of success.
Pressure can always be increased when a player has achieved a certain level of success.
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