The Effects of Skill Level on EMG Activity during Internal and External Imagery

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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This study was designed to determine if muscular innervation during imagery was specific to muscles needed for actual performance and if individuals of different skill levels utilizing two imagery perspectives demonstrated differing amounts of muscular activity. A final purpose was to assess the effectiveness of the meditation-relaxation approach used in karate training to reduce tonic activity in muscles. Beginning and advanced (N = 36) karate students were randomly assigned to counterbalanced conditions of imagery perspective (internal/external) x skill level (beginning/advanced) x side (right/left) in a factorial design. EMG data were collected from both deltoid muscles before and after a relaxation session, during and between performances of imaginary arm lifts and between imagery perspectives. Following testing, a questionnaire involving the subject's perception of success at imagery was completed. The results of this investigation suggest that skill level does influence muscle innervation during imagery and that this innervation appears specific to the muscle group necessary to execute the task. Internal imagery produces more EMG activity than external imagery. The meditation-relaxation techniques used in karate do significantly reduce tonic muscle activity.

This article is based on a thesis submitted by the second author in partial fulfillment of the requirements of a M.S. degree at The Pennsylvania State University. The first author served as the adviser.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dorothy V. Harris, Noll Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.

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