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Title: Constraints on movement variability during a discrete multi-articular action
Author: Robins, Matthew T.
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this programme of work was to examine how the manipulation of organismic and task constraints affected movement variability during a basketball shooting task. The specific constraints that were manipulated included task expertise, state anxiety and dioptric blur (organismic constraints), and, shooting distance and attentional focus instruction (task constraints). The aim of Study 1 was to investigate the effect of shooting distance and task expertise on movement variability. Task expertise was characterised by decreased coordination variability and heightened compensatory variability between wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. However, no significant difference was found in joint angle variability at release as a function of task expertise. There was no significant change in movement variability with shooting distance, a finding that was consistent across all expertise groups. In Study 2, the aims were to examine the effect of induced dioptric blur on shooting performance and movement variability during basketball free-throw shooting, and, to ascertain whether task expertise plays a mediating role in the capacity to stabilise performance against impaired visual information. Significant improvements in shooting performance were noted with the introduction of moderate visual blur (+1.00 and +2.00 D). This performance change was evident in both expert and novice performers. Only with the onset of substantial dioptric blur (+3.00 D), equivalent to the legal blindness limit, was there a significant decrease in coordination variability. Despite the change in coordination variability at +3.00 D, there was no significant difference in shooting performance when compared to the baseline condition. The aims of Study 3 were to examine the effect of elevated anxiety on shooting performance and movement variability and, again, to determine whether task expertise plays a mediating role in stabilising performance and movement kinematics against perturbation from emotional fluctuations. Commensurate with the results of Study 2, both expert and novice performers were able to stabilise performance and movement kinematics, this time with elevated anxiety. Stabilisation was achieved through the allocation of additional attentional resources to the task. Study 4, had two aims. The first was to examine the interactive effects of practice and focus of attention on both performance and learning of an accuracy-based, discrete multi-articular action. The second was to identify potential focus-dependent changes on joint kinematics, intra-limb coordination and coordination variability. Support was found for the role of an external focus of attention on shooting performance during both acquisition and retention. However, there was evidence to suggest that internal focus instruction could play a pivotal role in shaping emerging patterns of intra-limb coordination and channelling the learners‟ search towards a smaller range of kinematic solutions within the perceptual-motor workspace. Collectively, this programme of work consistently highlighted the fundamental role that constraints play in governing shooting performance, movement variability and, more broadly, perceptual-motor organisation. For instance, task expertise was characterised by decreased coordination variability and heightened compensatory control. However, in light of the data pertaining to joint angle variability at release, general assumptions about expertise-variability relations cannot be made and should be viewed with caution. In addition, there is strong evidence to suggest that adaptation to constraints is, perhaps, a universal human response, and consequently not mediated by task expertise. Further research is needed to fully elucidate this proposition.
Supervisor: Bartlett, Roger ; Wheat, Jonathan ; Davids, Keith Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available