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Athanasia Smirniotou, Flora Panteli, and Apostolos Theodorou

The study examined to what extent the manipulation of hurdle height (0.76-m hurdle, low hurdle 0.50 m, and white stripe) would affect visual regulation strategies and kinematic reorganization when approaching the first hurdle. In addition, the impact of constraints as a training tool in terms of creating movement patterns functional for and representative of competitive movement models was assessed. The approach phase to the first hurdle of 13 physical education students with no previous experience in hurdling was video recorded and analyzed. Emergence of different footfall variability curves and movement coordination patterns suggests that participants interact differently with features of the performance context. Contrary to the white stripe, the hurdle height required participants to initiate regulation and distribute adjustments over a larger number of steps, and afforded the preparation for takeoff in order to clear the hurdle. In task design, manipulation of task constraints should offer valuable information regarding the dynamics of movement.

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Flora Panteli, Charilaos Tsolakis, Dimitris Efthimiou, and Athanasia Smirniotou

This study examined the contribution of instructional self-talk and observational learning on the development of long jump technique. Sixty-nine beginner athletes were randomly assigned to four groups: ‘self-talk’, ‘video’, ‘self-talk + video’ and control group. All groups performed 24 practice sessions, consisting of a cognitive intervention program in the form of either instructional self-talk or observational learning, or a combination of both, and the practice of specific drills. A significantly higher performance improvement was recorded for the self-talk group in post test, whereas when kinematic variables of the motor skill (center of mass displacement) were assessed, “observational learning” proved to be more effective. The findings of the current study suggest that young, beginner athletes, participating in complicated tasks, may benefit from cognitive intervention techniques, through enhanced attentional focus on the most critical elements of the motor skill.