Reducing errors benefits the field-based learning of a fundamental movement skill in children

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Proficient fundamental movement skills (FMS) are believed to form the basis of more complex movement patterns in sports. This study examined the development of the FMS of overhand throwing in children through either an error-reduced (ER) or error-strewn (ES) training program. Students (n= 216), aged 8–12 years (M = 9.16, SD = 0.96), practiced overhand throwing in either a program that reduced errors during practice (ER) or one that was ES. ER program reduced errors by incrementally raising the task difficulty, while the ES program had an incremental lowering of task difficulty. Process-oriented assessment of throwing movement form (Test of Gross Motor Development-2) and product-oriented assessment of throwing accuracy (absolute error) were performed. Changes in performance were examined among children in the upper and lower quartiles of the pretest throwing accuracy scores. ER training participants showed greater gains in movement form and accuracy, and performed throwing more effectively with a concurrent secondary cognitive task. Movement form improved among girls, while throwing accuracy improved among children with low ability. Reduced performance errors in FMS training resulted in greater learning than a program that did not restrict errors. Reduced cognitive processing costs (effective dual-task performance) associated with such approach suggest its potential benefits for children with developmental conditions.

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