Bullseye: Effects of Autonomy Support and Enhanced Expectancies on Dart Throwing

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International Journal of Sports Sciences and Coaching

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The present study examined the combined influence of two motivational key factors in the OPTIMAL theory of motor learning,1 enhanced expectancies (EE) and autonomy support (AS), on the learning of a dart-throwing task. In one group (AS/EE), participants were provided with a success criterion that could be met relatively easily (EE) and two small choices (AS). A control group practiced under neutral conditions. On Day 1, participants completed a pretest and six 12-trial blocks of practice from a 2 m distance to the bullseye. Two days later, retention and transfer (novel distance of 2.37 m) tests were conducted. Self-efficacy was assessed throughout the practice phase and before the retention test. The results showed that the AS/EE group had higher self-efficacy during practice and demonstrated greater dart-throwing accuracy on the retention and transfer tests compared with the control group. The findings have implications for practical settings: They show that providing learners with a liberal definition of success and minor choices can be sufficient to enhance motor skill learning.


Motivation; Optimal theory of motor learning; Practice; Retention


Medicine and Health Sciences | Sports Sciences



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