Skill Classification

Teaching about the Classification of Skills is a great topic because there are lots of opportunities to combine practical and theory work. Almost all GCSE & A Level PE students love the practical side of the subject so practical activities are always going to improve engagement.


Practical Lesson Idea:

Skills are learned whereas ability is inherited. A great place to start with this topic is by asking your pupils about their ability in their sport and the skills that they have had to learn. Are they a ‘natural’ in their sport or have they had to work hard to learn each skill?

Classifying skills is relatively straightforward but we must remember that skill is on a continuum. For example when we look at Open v Closed skills, both a snooker break and tennis serve are closed skills but they are at slightly different locations on the skill continuum. This is because a snooker break is a very predictable skill whereas although a tennis serve is predictable, there are still unpredictable elements such as the position of your opponent and the weather.

Likewise, a rugby tackle and a shot in netball are both open skills as they take place within an unpredictable environment. However, a rugby tackle would be classed as ‘more open’. This is because every rugby tackle will be different depending on the position on the pitch, the size and strength of the opponent and the pace that you are moving at. There are predictable elements to a netball shot, such as the position of the goal post and the way that the ball is released.


AQA Learning Zone – Skill Classification

Edexcel Learning Zone – Skill Classification


Depending on the exam board used at your school, pupils will be required to classify skills in the following categories:

  • Open v Closed Skills
  • Complex v Basic Skills
  • High Organisation v Low Organisation Skills
  • Gross v Fine Skills
  • Self-Paced v Externally Paced Skills


If your pupils can give some examples of skills for each category and they can also lay out skills across a continuum, then they will be well on their way to mastering this topic!

After teaching this topic, use the resource below to test your pupils’ knowledge of Skill Classification. (Click on the image to open up the resource).

Also make sure your pupils have a go at the following exam questions:

AQA Skill Classification Exam Questions

Edexcel Skill Classification Exam Questions

Our Learning Zone for teachers and pupils of GCSE PE includes content, videos, exam questions and quizzes. To start using our Learning Zone, express your interest here:

Learning Zone – Express your Interest

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