Sorting the Skill Sets

OK, so before I take on the whole world of cognitive psychology, kinesiology, neuromuscular patterns and the motor skill development (yikes!), I want to try to categorize the different distinct set of skills that seem obvious to my untrained eye. While each sport is different in its rules, objectives and layout, the underlying skills required of the athletes seem to overlap. My early theory is that if athletes, especially young athletes, focus on the fundamentals of each core skill set, then they will be able to transfer those "mental maps" to other sports. Also, when considering the pieces necessary to perform a skill, it will be easier to break down the variations of the skill of each sport and get to the underlying mechanics.

So, here is my "Outline of Sport Skills" that will help organize our research and discovery:

First, a definition from Merriam-Webster ( of skill: the ability to use one's knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance b: dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks

Throwing ( to propel through the air by a forward motion of the hand and arm) Sample sports: baseball, football, cricket, basketball, bowling, etc.
One qualifier that I would add is to throw "at a target", which would differ than just throws for distance (i.e. shot/discus/javelin). The skill is two-dimensional as it involves judgment of distance and lateral accuracy.
Research questions would include:
- How is distance to target determined?
- How is lateral accuracy determined? (i.e. right-left, up-down target accuracy)
- If we include a soccer kick in this category, how are foot-eye coordination different than hand-eye?

Catching (
to grasp and hold on to (something in motion)) Sample sports: baseball, football, cricket, basketball, hockey, etc.
As familiar as we are with the act of catching a ball, we rarely dig deep into the true skill involved.
Research questions would include:
- How does the athlete judge the flight of the object (ball)?
- What are the visual cues that we use to reposition ourselves to meet the object at the right place and time to make the catch?
- What tactile cues to we use to close the grasp on the object?

Hitting (
to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat, club, or racket) so as to impart or redirect motion) Sample sports: baseball, golf, tennis, hockey, etc.
There are two variations: hitting a stationary (golf) vs. a moving object (baseball, tennis, hockey, cricket)
Research questions would include:
- Are the object tracking skills of Catching similar to those needed in Hitting?
- How does the neuro-motor connection adjust to the use of an object?

These three sets of skills cover most of the necessary situations in most major "goal-oriented" sports as opposed to the repetitive action sports of running, swimming, cycling, etc. Learning the commonalities at a very basic level should offer ideas of how to improve these core abilities through exercises and techniques.