Open and Closed Skills
Open skills occur in unpredictable and constantly changing situations, for example, during competitive team sports where players have a direct opponent, such as netball, soccer, rugby and water polo. Open skills are dependant on external factors for example timing, the placement of the skill, weather, skill level of opponents and spectators. Therefore, these factors outside the immediate control of the player. Open skills are often difficult for beginners and cognitive learners due to increased external distraction causing focus to be easily lost. However, autonomous learners and experienced players are often at an advantage using open skills because they can use knowledge from past experiences.
Closed skills occur in a familiar and stable environment, for example, during team and individual practise and training sessions. Closed skills are often self paced making them useful for learning new skills as there are minimal external distractions. However, it is imperative that players adapt to changing, unpredictable environment to develop as an athlete.
Individual skills are not categorised neatly into either an open or closed skill. Instead they exist on a continuum ranging from stable to unstable environment.
For example, dribbling a ball during soccer pratice could be classified as a closed skill because it is being performed in a relatively stable environment. However, when this same skill is performed during a competitive soccer match, the player is faced with numerous opponents creating an unpredictable, unfamiliar and unstable environment. This same skill of dribbling a ball is now classified as an open skill.