Enskilment: an Ecological-Anthropological Worldview of Skill, Learning and Education in Sport

Carl T. Woods, James Rudd, Rob Gray, Keith Davids

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to explore a different, more relational worldview of skill, learning and education in sport. To do this, we turn to the work of social anthropologist, Tim Ingold, leaning on the notion of enskilment, which proposes that learning is inseparable from doing and place. From this worldview, what is learned is not an established body of knowledge, transmitted into the mind of a passive recipient from an authorised being, but is a progressively deepening embodied-embedded attentiveness, where an individual learns to self-regulate by becoming more responsive to people and environmental features by ‘looking, listening and feeling’. As we discuss, Ingold’s perspectives on enskilment are rooted in the etymological connotations of education—ex-ducere, which roughly means ‘to lead out’. In applying this notion to sport, we unpack three of its entangled components, taskscapes, guided attention, and wayfinding, detailing the implications of each for the growth of enskilled sports performers. To promote the translation of these ideas, in addition to encouraging their inquiry beyond the scope of what is discussed here, sporting examples are threaded throughout the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Ecological dynamics
  • Ecological psychology
  • Knowledge
  • Self-regulation
  • Social anthropology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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