Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2019

Publication Title

Human Movement Science

Publisher

Elsevier

Volume

64

First page number:

307

Last page number:

319

Abstract

Variability in practice has been shown to enhance motor skill learning. Benefits of practice variability have been attributed to motor schema formation (variable versus constant practice), or more effortful information processing (random versus blocked practice). We hypothesized that, among other mechanisms, greater practice variability might promote an external focus of attention on the intended movement effect, while less variability would be more conducive to a less effective internal focus on body movements. In Experiment 1, the learning of a throwing task was enhanced by variable versus constant practice, and variable group participants reported focusing more on the distance to the target (external focus), while constant group participants focused more on their posture (internal focus). In Experiment 2, golf putting was learned more effectively with a random compared with a blocked practice schedule. Furthermore, random group learners reported using a more effective distal external focus (i.e., distance to the target) to a greater extent, whereas blocked group participants used a less effective proximal focus (i.e., putter) more often. While attentional focus was assessed through questionnaires in the first two experiments, learners in Experiment 3 were asked to report their current attentional focus at any time during practice. Again, the learning of a throwing task was more effective after random relative to blocked practice. Also, random practice learners reported using more external focus cues, while in blocked practice participants used more internal focus cues. The findings suggest that the attentional foci induced by different practice schedules might be at least partially responsible for the learning differences.

Keywords

Variable practice; Contextual interference; Attentional focus; Golf putting; Throwing

Disciplines

Educational Methods | Motor Control

File Format

pdf

File Size

391 KB

Language

English

Available for download on Sunday, March 01, 2020

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