Motor Skill Acquisition and Learning is Steve’s specialist academic field. The research into how we acquire physical skills provides critical information and guidance on how we as learners and coaches should structure training and practice. Many practitioners and organisations find it difficult to maintain currency as academic and scientific understanding constantly develops. Some methods and approaches utilised in teaching and coaching are poorly informed and lag behind, or are even contradicted by, up-to-date, high quality research evidence. Indeed, there is often great resistance to change, particularly in large and complex organisations in which inertia can be difficult to overcome.

Steve has a combination of decades of personal experience in a wide range of sports and activities, coupled to a significant number of high level coaching and leading awards covering a great many sports. Critically though, he has been regularly involved in relevant research over the past decade and a half meaning that his 35+ years teaching and coaching career has been subject to constant and immediate updating due to his close contact to the academic evidence being produced. The quality of his work has been recognised by the Economic & Social Research Council who funded his two most recent research projects.

Steve is enthusiastic to share his own experience and accrued knowledge and encourages learners and coaches from all disciplines to constantly challenge their own practice. Steve delivers skill acquisition programmes, lectures and workshops in a variety of academic and organisational contexts as well as offering his signature Skill Acquisition course on a regular basis. He has been the keynote speaker at British Canoeing’s Level 5 Coach conference: introducing and explaining Interference Effects. He was also instrumental in devising the assessment criteria for the British Caving Association’s CIC coaching module. Steve has also recently worked with British Curling’s elite performance coaches at the National Curling Academy in Stirling.

If you are interested in furthering your understanding of contemporary evidence in the field of physical skill learning and wish to enhance your own learning strategies or more effectively assist others, you should find this course stimulating and beneficial. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Steve; he’ll be pleased to hear from you and will do his best to help.

Latest research: 

Banks, S., Higgins, P., Sproule, J., & Pool, U. (2024). Resolving the Centipede’s Dilemma: external focus distance and expertise in applied, continuous skills, Psychological Research.

Banks, S., Sproule, J., Higgins, P., & Wulf, G. (2020). Forward thinking: When a distal external focus makes you faster, Human Movement Science, 74.

Cost £225
Dates Currently by arrangement at any mutually convenient time
More details Enquire now

“Hi Steve, I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the course. The level of detail was excellent. Best of all was how gracefully you accepted almost continual interventions and questions and then dealt with them so comfortably and thoroughly. The invitation to scrutinise is commonly announced though not commonly carried out. It all provided a great example of how to deliver a course. Double thumbs up!”

Rosie Goolden, teacher, Glasgow

“Hi Steve, Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring course. It all makes so much more sense now. [my partner] is learning it all too as I haven’t stopped talking about it. Had you thought of doing a follow up course for folk who want to learn more? For one I would be very interested.”

Duncan Greene, Greene Adventures, Kirkoswald

“Hi Steve, Many thanks for a brilliant 2 days. It’s great to come away with an uncluttered mind, devoid of all the nonsense… As I said, it must be the only course we get to go on where we leave behind more than we take away, but more importantly it’s the value of what we do take away with us that counts – many thanks.”

Steve Macfarlane, BC Guide, Glenuig

“Steve. What a course! I can’t believe you managed to deliver two days of serious theory and make it so incredibly interesting. Why has no one told us this stuff before? Fantastically useful, absolutely brilliant!”

Colin North, Outdoor Education instructor, Lancaster

“Hi Steve, thanks for all your help and expertise on the skill acquisition course last week, probably the most thought provoking and certainly the most engaging course I’ve been on since I did my masters!”

Kevin Dudley, Colchester

“Hi Steve,The weekend was a really great opportunity and I am very glad to have developed my knowledge and understanding. Many thanks for this. I applied the thinking to my coaching yesterday. What a revelation it was. The impact [on the learners] was immediate and they loved it + I was more tired following my increased enthusiasm – a great outcome. Thank you for all of the info, it really helps to challenge our thinking and to understand why we coach/teach in the way that we do.”

Yousaf Mirza, Head of Education, Wiltshire Outdoor Education Service

“Hi Steve, Following the Skill Acquisition course I’m questioning things I may have normally accepted straight away – which is a very positive thing. This isn’t just coaching and training related, but in many different aspects of my work. Today and tomorrow I am on a ‘Change Management’ course and all I can think about is whether the information I’m receiving is scientifically researched and credible. I’m converted to an evidence based approach. Thanks for all your help.”

Laura McLemon, Product Development Manager, National Scout Activity Centres

“Thanks Steve for a fantastic course, it challenged some of my own ideas and experiences and left me wanting to know more and question some of the educational practices which go on in my school. It was delivered to a high level which was refreshing as there was no attempt to ‘dumb down’ any of the theories and all the points made were of course backed up by the all important research evidence!!”

Elisabeth Smith, teacher, Arnside

“Thank you Steve for an excellent course! I will happily recommend it to any coaches from any discipline – it should definitely be part of the coach development pathway for British Canoeing. (You may quote me!). I have spent this morning trying to align the evidence given to what we do during sessions so I feel when I tell my staff on training days I can say why. I have done a bit of research for that, and it seems the way you presented the academic papers was true to their writing and you were careful to not add or augment. I appreciated this.”

Johan Hoving, Proprietor, River Deep, Mountain High, Lowick

“Hi Stephen, Thanks for the amazing Skill Acquisition course in December. I think your course is invaluable and following the course I wrote to British Canoeing with my thoughts. As a qualified secondary school teacher (10 years), BC coach, Mentor to NQT’s & PGCE teachers, mentor to level 1 & 2 coaches within my local club, Professional Development coach within school (staff training) and a coach in other sporting disciplines , I have over the years received much training in educational theories and practices. Over half of the learning undertaken on your Skill Acquisition Course is still not delivered in training in these other aspects/sporting coach contexts. The course was highly informative, practical in application, provocative with direct impact upon personal evaluation and will change personal practice. It was a highly positive experience and a thoroughly enjoyable course.”

Mark Thompson, Teacher, Gloucester

“Hi Steve, Following my successful completion of the first ever British Canoeing Level 3 assessment yesterday, I thought I would just thank you for your help and support of my coach development to this point. It has been an interesting and informative journey so far, that has been most ably informed and shaped by the Coaching Processes course and the two MWEs you have facilitated for me. I have particularly enjoyed using the information and knowledge that you have imparted during my debates with other coaches and coach educators who may be less informed or possess less thorough scientifically supported evidence than yourself. Thank you very much for your assistance so far, and I look forward to further debate, discussion, development and paddling together when the opportunities arise. Many thanks for your support and help, it’s very much appreciated.”

Gary Fletcher, Royal Air Force, The UK’s first Level 3 Paddlesport Coach

“Hi Steve, Firstly I would like to thank you once again for such a motivating course, I don’t think I’ve stopped talking about it since I got back. It really was planets apart (in an excellent way) from any other course I’ve ever been on – and I’ve been on lots! Please keep up the good work Steve.”

Rick Greenland, BC Coach, Nottingham

“Just before Christmas, I attended a Coaching Processes course run by Steve Banks in the Lake District and I have to say it was one of the best courses that I have ever attended in terms of course content and delivery! Steve’s course delivers a whole lot more than any other course all backed up with a clear evidence base. I learnt a great deal from this course and look forward to applying what I’ve learnt to provide a better learning experience for my clients. If you would like a skill acquisition course that challenges the norm and gives guidance on current good practice all backed up with evidence from respected sources then a course run by Steve Banks is the one for you.”

Chris Hughes, Adventure Activity provider, Shrewsbury

“Hi Steve, Home safe and brain brimming with new ideas and can’t wait to get out tomorrow and start using some of it! I’ve written the following for your testimonials page: I have just had a fantastic Skill Acquisition course with Steve, one of the most talented tutors I have ever worked with. Run to a high level, he was still able to deliver evidence from the latest academic research in coaching excellence mixed with practical tasks and suggestions for a wide array of applications. The pace was bespoke, the subjects were of real interest and the detail was thorough and engaging. Modest, yet with a wealth of experience and expertise he remained open to suggestion and encouraged rigorous questioning until we had all a meaningful understanding of the topics covered. I feel my overall view of coaching has dramatically changed and I now want to start to use new techniques and a fresh approach as a coach, and expect a higher level of coaching when I get on other courses as the student!”

Benny Bostock, Outdoor Education Teacher, Kingston Maurward College, Dorset

“Hi Steve, Thanks very much for the Skill Acquisition course, I found the 2 days inspirational, and I’ve been reflecting back and relating it to my teaching and coaching experience over the years – what you explained makes a lot of sense. I need to go and read all the attachments now!”

Dave Scourfield, Educational Visits Coordinator, Rochdale MBC