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Information Processing Models

In sport, we have to learn and perform a wide range of perceptual-motor skills and select the appropriate skill action for a given situation. Galligan et al. (2000)[3] identifies the way we make that skill selection is through our information processing system. This system is known as the DCR process - we Detect information, Compare it with previous experiences and then React.


Two of the better-known models which are generally referred to are Welford's (Welford 1968)[1] and Whiting's (Whiting 1969)[2]. Both models reflect the same process, although they use slightly different terminology. The process is:

  • stimulus identification stage
  • response identification/selection stage
  • response programming stage

Welford's Model

Welford's model suggests that we:

  • take in information through our senses and temporarily store all of these inputs before sorting them out
  • the inputs that are seen as relevant to the decision are then stored in the short-term memory
  • a decision is made by comparing the information in the short-term memory with previous experiences stored in the long-term memory
  • regarding the long-term memory for the required action, the decision is carried out
  • the action and the results are stored for future reference
  • the whole process then begins again

Sensory input

The sensory information relevant to the situation is stored in short-term memory. TThe information is taken in through the senses before a decision is made in three ways. These are:

  • what we see (vision)
  • what we hear (auditory)
  • what we sense (proprioception)

Short and long-term memories

All information gathered from the various sensory inputs is stored for a split second in the short-term memory before it is processed. It is suggested that the short-term memory can only hold up to seven pieces of information and retain for less than a minute.

The long-term memory, which appears to have a limitless capacity, contains information relating to past experiences.

Decision process

The decision process occurs by comparing the current situation, held in the short-term memory, with previous experiences, held in the long-term memory, to determine appropriate action.


The action is performed regarding the movement pattern stored in long-term memory. Once the action is completed, the situation and result are stored in the long-term memory for future reference.

Whiting's Model

Whiting identifies three stages:

  • Perceptual mechanisms (sensory input)
  • Translator mechanisms (decision process)
  • Effector mechanisms (action)


  1. WELFORD, A.T. (1968) Fundamentals of skill. London: Methuen
  2. WHITING, H. (1969) Acquiring ball skill. London: Bell
  3. GALLIGAN, F. et al. (2000) Acquiring Skill In: GALLIGAN, F. et al., Advanced PE for Edexcel. Bath: Bath Press, p. 116

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2006) Information Processing Models [WWW] Available from: [Accessed