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Shannon D.R. Ringenbach, Kristina Zimmerman, Chih Chia Chen, Genna M. Mulvey, Simon D. Holzapfel, Daniel J. Weeks and Michael H. Thaut

The present study used a synchronization-continuation paradigm during continuous bimanual drumming with different cues in 17 persons with Down syndrome, eight typical persons with similar mental age and eight typical persons with similar chronological age. The task required participants to hit two drums with their hands at the same time following music (e.g., a tune with various decibel drum beats), auditory (e.g., sound of drumbeat), verbal (e.g., voice saying “drum”), and visual (e.g., video of both hands moving up and down and hitting the drums together) cues for 10 seconds, then continue drumming in the absence of cues for another 10 seconds. In general, when all groups were following the music cues their movements were faster as compared with their movements in the auditory, verbal, and visual conditions. In addition, when following visual cues all groups produced more accurate and consistently coordinated movements than with the other cue types. Further, participants with Down syndrome often stopped moving when the pacing cues were eliminated indicating a need for continuous cues for continuous movements.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, David A. Wittrock, Robert J. Smith and William Monson

We propose that training athletes to use certain cognitive-behavioral procedures, “criticism inoculation training” (CIT), could enable them to circumvent the adverse effects of excessively negativistic coaching. This experiment evaluated the efficacy of one potential CIT strategy, positive self-monitoring (systematically observing and recording instances of success). A laboratory paradigm was used in which 60 male college students attempted to learn the underhand free throw basketball technique from one of four undergraduate pseudocoaches. Subjects were randomly assigned to four groups determined by a 2 (negative vs. no feedback) × 2 (positive vs. no self-monitoring) factorial design. Negative feedback was expected to debilitate, while positive self-monitoring was expected to facilitate performance, sustained self-observation of videotapes of performance, and subjective evaluations of the “coach” and the technique. Negative feedback clearly produced extensive adverse effects, but surprisingly, positive self-monitoring also decreased performance. Theories of skilled motor behavior (MacKay, 1982) and self-regulation (Carver, 1979) helped explain why positive self-monitoring failed as a CIT procedure. This interpretation which focuses on the novelty of the task and the development of negative expectancies also led to suggestions of strategies that could more effectively fulfill the promise of the CIT concept.

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Yorghos Apostolopoulos, Mona M. Shattell, Sevil Sönmez, Robert Strack, Lauren Haldeman and Victoria Jones

Background:

As one of the most underserved segments of the U.S. labor force, truck drivers have been associated with a series of morbid conditions intimately linked to their occupational milieux, their mostly unhealthful nutritional intake and sedentary lifestyles, and their resulting excess weight-gain.

Methods:

This paper reports data from a baseline assessment of 25 trucking work settings located around interstate highways I-40 and I-85 in North Carolina. It examines how the environmental attributes of these work settings influence the physical and recreational activity behaviors of truckers, compares findings with those from other occupational environments, and brings to the fore a new health promotion paradigm for trucking worksites.

Results:

Findings support growing empirical and anecdotal evidence that trucking work settings remain not only active-living deserts, but overall unhealthful places. A scan of physical, social, and information environments within trucking worksites as well as physical environments of surrounding communities reveal only meager opportunities for physical and recreational activity for truckers.

Conclusion:

This paper places the highly underserved population of truckers firmly within the discourse of worksite health promotion, and calls for comprehensive multistakeholder wellness strategies that address a multitude of risk factors linked to the occupational context.

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Stacy Winter and Dave Collins

Priming has recently emerged in the literature as offering advantages in the preparation for skilled performance. Accordingly, the current study tested the efficacy of imagery against a priming paradigm as a means of enhancing motor performance: in essence, contrasting a preparation technique primarily under the conscious control of the performer to an unconscious technique promoting automaticity. The imagery intervention was guided by the PETTLEP model, while the priming intervention took the form of a scrambled sentence task. Eighteen skilled field-hockey players performed a dribbling task under imagery, priming, skill-focus, and control conditions. Results revealed a significant improvement in speed and technical accuracy for the imagery condition as opposed to the skill-focus, control, and priming conditions. In addition, there were no significant differences in performance times or technical accuracy between the priming and control conditions. The study provides further support for the efficacy of imagery to elicit enhanced motor skill performance but questions the emerging emphasis on priming as an effective tool in preparation for physical tasks.

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Michaela B. Upshaw and Jessica Sommerville

Previous research demonstrates that infants adapt and plan their actions based on object weight, but fewer studies have investigated how infants’ understanding of object weight shapes their understanding of physical events. The present study investigates 10-month-old infants’ understanding of the effect of object weight in support events—specifically, that object weight impacts whether a supporting surface will become compressed or not—and its relation to motor development. In Experiment 1, using an action task, we found that infants infer an object’s weight based on whether it compresses a supporting surface, as demonstrated by reaches to the light object following the support event. In Experiment 2, using a violation-of-expectation paradigm, we found that infants generate predictions for the outcome of support events involving heavy and light objects (i.e., they expect heavy, but not light, objects to compress a supporting surface), as demonstrated by longer looking to inconsistent events relative to consistent. Neither experiment found relations with infants’ motor development. These findings demonstrate that infants invoke a concept of object weight when interpreting and predicting the outcomes of physical events and that the ability to reason about object weight as a causal factor in physical events is relatively sophisticated in infancy.

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Fabien Cignetti, Sébastien Caudron, Marianne Vaugoyeau and Christine Assaiante

There is evidence that adolescence is a critical period in development, most likely involving important modifications of the body schema and of the sensorimotor representations. The present study addressed this issue, by investigating the differences between adolescents and adults regarding the integration of proprioceptive information at both perceptual and postural levels and the visual recognition of human movement. Proprioceptive integration was examined using muscle-tendon vibration that evoked either a postural response or an illusory sensation of movement. The ability to recognize human movement was investigated from a paradigm where the participants had to discern between human movements performed with and without gravity. The study produced three main findings. First, the adolescents had larger postural responses to tendon vibrations than the adults, with visual information enabling them to reduce this exaggerated postural reaction. Second, the adolescents had a greater illusory perception of movement compared with the adults. Third, the adolescents had the same perceptual ability as adults in the human movement perception task. In conclusion, we were able to highlight notable differences between adolescents and young adults, which confirms the late maturation of multisensory integration for postural control and the privileged visual contribution to postural control.

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Norbert Hagemann, Bernd Strauss and Rouwen Cañal-Bruland

A major element in expert sports performance, particularly racket-and-ball games, is excellent anticipatory skill. A prestudy combined the temporal and spatial occlusion paradigms to ascertain which key stimuli badminton players use for anticipating the direction of overhead shots. The main study then evaluated a program for training anticipatory skills; 200 video clips were employed to orient attention toward these key stimuli. Participants were 63 badminton novices, 20 national league players, and 21 local league players. A transparent red patch (exogenous orienting) was used to orient attention toward the trunk up to 160 ms before racket-shuttle contact; the arm, from 160 ms to 80 ms before contact; and the racket, from 80 ms before to actual contact. Results showed that badminton novices who trained with this program significantly improved their anticipatory skill between post- and retention test compared with controls. Whereas local league players improved from pre- to posttest, training had no effect on expert national league players. It is concluded that using red transparent patches to highlight the most informative cues in perceptual training programs is a promising way to improve anticipatory skill.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum and Robert J. Smith

In this study, experimenters (pseudo-coaches) provided feedback that varied in valence, sequence, and amount to 50 male college students. A laboratory analogue paradigm was used that included a basketball-like underhand free throw task in which subjects first were instructed on proper technique and then took 10 baseline shots (trials) followed by 2 blocks of 20 trials each. Subjects were randomly assigned. Some interacted with a pseudo-coach who made no comments during the two experimental trial blocks (control), while others received feedback (6-8 comments per trial block) that was response-specific, emotionally oriented, and provided in one of four sequences: positive-positive, negative-negative, positive-negative, or negative-positive. Based on prior research on coach behavior and social psychological studies of interpersonal behavior, we hypothesized that both of the continuous feedback groups would show performance decrements and associated reactions to the coach and the task. These predictions were supported regarding performance and, to some extent, regarding a measure of sustained self-observation. Discussion includes interpretation of the nominally superior performance of the control group, the nonsignificant results on the subjective evaluation measures, and implications of these findings in view of external validity criteria and prior analyses in the emerging behavioral technology of coaching.

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Chu-Min Liao and Richard S.W. Masters

Although it has often been implied that self-focused attention plays a mediating role in performance degradation under stress, the assumption that stress will evoke self-focus has received limited empirical support. Two studies were carried out to explore this relationship. The first study, using a time-to-event paradigm, showed that a higher level of self-focused attention accompanied increased anxiety levels in the buildup to competition. In the second study, basketball novices who were instructed to focus on the mechanics of the ball-shooting process during practice suffered a significant performance decrement in a subsequent stressful test phase, whereas those who were required only to do their best during practice showed no degradation in performance. It was concluded that self-focused attention may increase in response to psychological stress, and that the negative effect of self-focused attention on performance under stress is likely to be magnified by learning the skill under a high degree of self-focused attention, which can result in an overawareness of the performance process.

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Keith Lohse, Taylor Buchanan and Matthew Miller

Appropriate statistical analysis is essential for accurate and reliable research. Statistical practices have an immediate impact on the perceived results of a single study but also remote effects on the dissemination of information among scientists and the cumulative nature of research. To accurately quantify potential problems facing the field of motor learning, we systematically reviewed publications from seven journals over the past 2 years to find experiments that tested the effects of different training conditions on delayed retention and transfer tests (i.e., classic motor learning paradigms). Eighteen studies were included. These studies had small sample sizes (Mdn n/group = 11.00, interquartile range [IQR]= 9.6–15.5), multiple dependent variables (Mdn = 2, IQR = 2–4), and many statistical tests per article (Mdn = 83.5, IQR = 55.8–112.5). The observed effect sizes were large (d = 0.71, IQR = 0.49, 1.11). However, the distribution of effect sizes was biased, t(16) = 3.48, p < .01. These metadata indicate problems with the way motor learning research is conducted (or at least published). We recommend several potential solutions to address these issues: a priori power calculations, prespecified analyses, data sharing, and dissemination of null results. Furthermore, we hope these data will spark serious action from all stakeholders (researchers, editorial boards, and publishers) in the field.