Random Versus Blocked Practice to Enhance Mental Representation in Golf Putting

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in mental representation from either random or blocked practice when engaged in golf putting. Thirty participants were randomly assigned to random practice, blocked practice, and no-practice groups. First, we measured novice golfers’ initial mental representation levels and required them to perform 18 putting trials as a pre-test. We then asked random and blocked groups to practice in accordance with their group assignment for six consecutive days (10 blocks each day, 18 trials each). A week after the last practice session, we re-measured all participants’ final mental representation levels and required them to perform 18 putting trials to evaluate learning retention through practice. While those engaged in the random practice method putted more poorly during acquisition (i.e., practice) than those in blocked practice, the random practice group experienced more accurate retention during the final putting trials, and they showed a more structured mental representation than those in blocked practice, one that was more similar to that of skilled golfers. These results support the acquisition of a rich mental representation through random versus blocked practice.

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