The Influence of Procedural Variables on the Efficacy of Mental Practice

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Jennifer L. Etnier Arizona State University

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Daniel M. Landers Arizona State University

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Despite evidence that mental practice (MP) improves performance (Feltz & Landers, 1983), the parameters that define the MP period have not been systematically examined. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the order of presentation of MP and physical practice (PP) and of the duration of MP on subsequent performance. Subjects (N = 153) were randomly assigned to 1 of 9 groups that consisted of a control group (3-min PP) and 8 groups composed of either 1-, 3-, 5-, or 7-min MP, with 3-min PP. 4 of these groups performed MP first and the other 4 performed PP first. Subjects performed a 3-min basketball shooting task for Trial 1, practiced, performed Trial 2, practiced, and performed Trial 3. Results indicated that the order of presentation of MP and PP significantly impacted performance, such that groups who received MP first improved more than did PP-first groups. The duration of the MP period also impacted performance, such that groups who received 1 min or 3 min of MP improved more than the control group or groups who received 5 min or 7 min of MP.

Jennifer L. Etnier is with the Department of Health and Sport Science at Wake Forest University, P.O. Box 7234, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, and Daniel M. Landers is with the Dept. of Exercise Science and Physical Education at Arizona State University, Box 870701, Tempe, AZ 85287-0701.

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