Skill execution errors: An ‘it depends’ perspective on their role, type and use when coaching for player development in sport

Callum Ferguson*, Howie J Carson, Dave Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Decades of motor learning research has challenged the role of errors; it seems that for the same reason some authors promote using errors, others demote them. In this discursive article, we propose that the role of errors in the sports coaching context is more complex than a binary error avoidance or promotion approach. Accordingly, we present a novel ‘it depends’ perspective, which suggests that when equipped with effective decision-making skills, coaches can use errors strategically, manipulating their frequency to align with an athlete's performance context (i.e., skill level, aspirations, competitive schedule) and achieve interdisciplinary learning outcomes (i.e., technical, physical, psychological). In doing so, the article discusses the psycho-motor, psycho-behavioural and psycho-social considerations for error implementation, presents alternative and emerging perspectives on error usage, and emphasises the importance of coaches’ decision-making skills for implementing a nuanced error-based approach. Such ideas have the potential to positively impact on the quality of applied coaching practice within the field of motor learning and player development, but more research is required to establish how this is, and could be, operationalised with practitioners in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSports Coaching Review
Early online date26 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sept 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biopsychosocial
  • challenge point hypothesis
  • desirable difficulty
  • motor learning
  • practical coaching
  • psychological characteristics for developing excellence

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