According to Bernstein, the central nervous system solution to the human body’s enormous variation in movement choice and control when directing movement—the problem of degrees of freedom (DF)—is to freeze the number of possibilities at the beginning of motor learning. However, different strategies of freezing DF are observed in literature, and the means of selection of the control strategy during learning is not totally clear. This review investigated the possible effects of the class and objectives of the skill practiced on DF control strategies. The results of this review suggest that freezing or releasing the DF at the beginning of learning does not depend on the class (e.g., discrete skill class: football kick, dart throwing; continuous skill class: athletic march, handwriting) or objective of the skill (e.g., balance, velocity, and accuracy), in isolation. However, an interaction between these two skill elements seems to exist and influences the selection of the DF control strategy.
Anderson Nascimento Guimarães, Herbert Ugrinowitsch, Juliana Bayeux Dascal, Alessandra Beggiato Porto, and Victor Hugo Alves Okazaki
Anderson Nascimento Guimarães, Herbert Ugrinowitsch, Juliana Bayeux Dascal, and Victor Hugo Alves Okazaki
To test Bernstein’s degrees of freedom (DF) hypothesis, the authors analyzed the effect of practice on the DF control and interjoint coordination of a Taekwondo kick. Thirteen inexperienced and 11 expert Taekwondo practitioners were evaluated. Contrary to Bernstein’s hypothesis, the inexperienced group froze the DF at the end of learning, reducing the joint range of motion of the knee. Moderate and strong cross-correlations between joints did not change, demonstrating that the interjoint coordination was maintained. The inexperienced group’s movement pattern was similar to that of the group of experts, from the beginning of the learning process. Thus, even after years of practice, experts continue to explore the strategy of freezing DF. The DF freeing/freezing sequence strategy was explored during the learning process, suggesting that DF-freezing/freeing strategies are task dependent.