Human Movement Science
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In the OPTIMAL theory of motor learning (Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2016), three factors are postulated to facilitate motor performance and learning: Enhanced expectancies (EE) for performance, autonomy support (AS), and an external focus (EF) of attention. We examined whether EE, AS, and EF would have immediate performance benefits and whether implementing these factors consecutively would lead to incremental performance increases. Participants were assigned to the optimized or control groups and performed a maximal jump. After the first trial block (baseline), optimized group participants were provided different conditions on each of the following 3 blocks: (a) Positive social-comparative feedback (EE); (b) choice of figure on the ground from which to jump (AS); and (c) instructions to focus on a marker on their waist (EF). The order of conditions was counterbalanced. Control group participants performed all 4 blocks under the same (control) condition. The optimized group outperformed the control group on Blocks 2–4. Moreover, their jump height increased with each addition of another variable, whereas it did not change across blocks in the control group. Thus, EE, AS, and EF had additive or incremental benefits for performance. The findings corroborate the importance of key variables in the OPTIMAL theory for motor performance.
OPTIMAL theory; JumpingPositive feedback; Autonomy support; External focus of attention
Kinesiology | Motor Control
Onward and Upward: Optimizing Motor Performance.
Human Movement Science, 60
Available for download on Thursday, May 30, 2019