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Effective skill refinement: focusing on process to ensure outcome

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In contrast to the abundance of motor skill acquisition and performance research, there is a paucity of work which addresses how athletes with an already learnt and well-established skill may go about making a subtle change, or refinement, to that skill. Accordingly, the purpose of this review paper is to provide a comprehensive overview of current understanding pertaining to such practice. Specifically, this review addresses deliberately initiated refinements to closed and self-paced skills (e.g., javelin throwing, golf swing and horizontal jumps). In doing so, focus is directed to three fundamental considerations within applied coaching practice and future research endeavours; the intended outcomes, process and evaluative measures of skill refinement. Conclusions suggest that skill refinement is not the same as skill acquisition or performing already learnt skills with high-levels of automaticity. Due to the complexity of challenge faced, refinements are best addressed as an interdisciplinary solution, with objective measures informing coach decision making.
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