Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology


Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences

First Committee Member

Gabriel Wulf, Chair

Second Committee Member

John Mercer

Third Committee Member

Janet Dufek

Graduate Faculty Representative

Erin Hannon

Number of Pages



Motor learning research has suggested that self-controlled practice (or “autonomy”) leads to more effective learning of motor tasks. Debate continues, however, as to why. Most motor behaviorists maintain the better learning is due to cognitive and information-processing factors. Recently, others have proposed the learning enhancement is due to such psychological factors as motivation and affect. The present study sought to measure motor skill learning, intrinsic motivation, and affect in self-controlled versus externally-controlled (yoked) practice conditions.

Participants, 16 collegiate women’s volleyball student-athletes from two National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I programs, were paired by forearm passing skill level, and one of each pair was randomly placed in either the self-control or yoked group. The self-control participants were asked to design their own forearm passing drill during the practice phase of the experiment. The yoked participants followed the design established by the self-control participant to whom they were yoked. Each of the participants’ forearm passing accuracy was measured in a free ball passing drill consisting of a pre-test and practice phase on Day 1, and a post-test on Day 2. Their intrinsic motivation was measured using the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI), and their positive and negative affect was measured using the Positive and Negative Affect Scale – Expanded Edition (PANAS-X). The IMI and PANAS-X were administered in a baseline condition (after a team practice one week prior to participation in the study) at the end of Day 1, and the end of Day 2.

Analysis of the data revealed no statistically significant differences between groups in either forearm passing, intrinsic motivation, or affect. Further research is needed to determine if intrinsic motivation and affect are partially responsible for the learning benefits of self-controlled practice.


Affect; Autonomy; Forearm passing; Motivation (Psychology); Motor learning; Self-control; Self-controlled practice; Sports —Psychological aspects; Volleyball; Volleyball — Pass


Kinesiology | Psychology of Movement

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit