Stages of Skill Acquisition

Stages of Skill Acquisition

  • Cognitive
  • Associative
  • Autonomous


  • Acquisition of skills through thought, experience and information processing.
  • Includes conceptualization and formation of a mental image to reproduce an action.
  • Feedback is key to minimize fine and gross errors.
  • Information overload should be avoided.


  • Focused towards skill refinement through practice.
  • Once the cognitive skill is acquired, regular practice harmonizes the information in the brain and its implementation through muscle movement, building muscle memory.
  • As the learner’s kinaesthetic sense improves, their fluency in the skill develops, so does their confidence in pulling off the skill.


  • An advanced stage where a skill has been mastered and muscle memory is built enough to provide maximum fluidity in action.
  • Maximum acquirement of kinaesthetic sense and potential to improvise.
  • Complex skills demand more time to reach the autonomous stage. Constant, routined practice and motivation is required.