Throwing Skills: Analysis of Movement Phases in Early Motor Learning

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Traditionally, motor learning scientists have evaluated the process of learning a new motor skill by considering the skill as a whole. Yet, motor skills comprise various phases, and in the motor learning literature, it is not clear whether new learners show similar or different learning across various phases. We provide exploratory data on learning movement phases by novices, using baseball pitching as the learning task. Eight participants (four male, four female, M age = 23.7 years, SD = 2.4) performed five trials each in the pretest followed by three blocks of 10 trials each in the acquisition phase. Finally, two retention tests of five trials were conducted by each participant 10 minutes and seven days after the last acquisition block, respectively. Intra- and interlimb coordination of upper and lower body segments were measured as dependent variables. We found significant differences between the stride phase and the other phases at pretest, during the acquisition phase, and on both retention tests across all kinematic variables. Participants experienced more trouble coordinating the stride phase than the other phases of pitching, perhaps because the stride phase is the only phase in which the participants had to move their upper and lower body parts simultaneously. We discuss implications for motor learning generally.

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