Effects of Practice on the Control of Whole-Body Momentum in Active Children and Adults

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of practice on performance of a running task requiring maximal speed and accurate termination. Physically active pre-pubertal boys and men ran as fast as possible and stopped at a pre-determined target location. Twenty-five trials were collected and comparisons made between first five (early) and last five (late) trials. Approach velocity, normalized approach velocity (percent of maximal sprint velocity, %Vmax), stopping distance from target, and success rate were calculated. Self-efficacy for task performance and fatigue reports were collected prior to trials. Children ran more slowly than adults in absolute terms but performed at higher relative velocity. Both groups displayed similar accuracy and percentages of successful trials across early and late practice. Adults increased approach velocity and %Vmax from early to late; children, already higher in relative maximal velocity, did not change. Self-efficacy paralleled performance findings and correlated with %Vmax and success rate; both groups reported higher self-efficacy for late compared with early. With practice, adults increased approach velocity and children did not; however, children appeared to be performing at a higher relative level from the beginning, perhaps reflecting their more substantial recent histories of similar physical activity and limiting further effects of practice.

Cesar is with the Movement and Neurosciences Center, Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, Lincoln, NE. Lewthwaite and Sigward are with the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

Address author correspondence to Guilherme M. Cesar at gcesar@madonna.org.
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