A motor skill is a learned ability to cause a predetermined movement outcome with maximum certainty. Motor learning is the relatively permanent change in the ability to perform a skill as a result of practice or experience. Performance is an act of executing a motor skill. The goal of motor skills is to optimize the ability to perform the skill at the rate of success, precision, and to reduce the energy consumption required for performance. Continuous practice of a specific motor skill will result in a greatly improved performance, but not all movements are motor skills.
Motor skills are movements and actions of the muscles. Typically, they are categorized into two groups:
Gross motor skills – require the use of large muscle groups to perform tasks like walking, balancing, and crawling. The skill required is not extensive and therefore are usually associated with continuous tasks. Much of the development of these skills occurs during early childhood. The performance level of gross motor skill remains unchanged after periods of non-use. Gross motor skills can be further divided into two subgroups: locomotor skills, such as running, jumping, sliding, and swimming; and object-control skills such as throwing, catching and kicking.
Fine motor skills – requires the use of smaller muscle groups to perform smaller movements with the wrists, hands, fingers, and the feet and toes. These tasks that are precise in nature, like playing the piano, writing carefully, and blinking. Generally, there is a retention loss of fine motor skills over a period of non-use. Discrete tasks usually require more fine motor skill than gross motor skills. Fine motor skills can become impaired. Some reasons for impairment could be injury, illness, stroke, congenital deformities, cerebral palsy, and developmental disabilities. Problems with the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, or joints can also have an effect on fine motor skills, and decrease control.