The effect of cognitive strategies on the performance of a closed motor skill

Fairweather, Kelly George (1991-12)

Thesis (M. in Human Movement Studies) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1991.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study comprised two separate but closely 'related parts, an experimental study and a limited field study. The experimental study utilized a closed motor skill accuracy task, putting a golf ball, to determine the effects of two different cognitive strategies on the performance of two experimental groups. The field study involved distributing questionnaires to professional golfers (N=57) who participated in the South African TweeJongegezellen Masters tournament in Stellenbosch. The questionnaire was designed to determine the extent to which these golfers used structured mental strategies within pre-shot routines. Results reveal that local golfers do not have adequate knowledge of psychological techniques and' of how to employ them. The experimental strategies could be divided into two distinct components: a cognitive component and a behavioural component. The behavioural component of the experimental groups was identical and took the form of a mechanical preshot routine. Subjects were required to learn a step-by-step routine which they would repeat before every putt. This behavioural strategy can be seen as a primary strategy (Singer, 1984) in that it enables the performer to absorb, all the relevant information from the environment that is necessary to formulate an appropriate motor programme. The cognitive component is aimed at allowing the primary strategy, to operate more effectively. This cognitive component could therefore, according to Singer (1984), be seen as a secondary strategy. Both experimental groups received training in the Centering technique devised by Nideffer (1986). Only one experimental group received instruction in relaxation and imagery skills. Male, amateur, single figure handicap golfers participated in the study (N=24). Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (a) an attentional pre-shot routine group (n=8); (b) an attentional pre-shot routine with imagery and relaxation group (n=8); and (c) a control group (n=8). All subjects completed a putting test before and after the five-week experimental programme. The putting test was conducted in a laboratory where a putting green was constructed. This allowed for maximum control of external variables while still simulating identical competition conditions. Subjects had sixteen putts from eight different distances during the test. Standardized instructions were read out to each subject to ensure maximum control. The treatment of the experimental groups involved a series of lectures over a five week period. Experimental group A had five lectures and Experimental group B had a total of seven lectures during which typed handouts, which explained the theory behind the techniques learnt, were distributed 'to subjects. The final lecture was devoted purely to the practical application of these techniques. Although both experimental groups improved, the results of. the test found only the experimental group trained in imagery and relaxation to have improved significantly. The results suggest that using a structured attentional pre-shot routine that includes imagery and relaxation will produce more consistent putting scores for golfers. The conclusion drawn from the results of the experiment was consistent with the proposed hypothesis. A number of theories, inter alia the schema theory (Schmidt, 1988) , the set hypothesis, and the information processing theory are proposed to support why the use of strategies improve performance.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie het bestaan uit twee -afsonderlike maar verwante dele, naamlik 'n ekspeiimentele studie en 'n beperkte veldstudie. In die eksperimentele studie is gebruik gemaak van 'n akkuraatheidstoets, om 'n gholfbal te set, om die effek van twee verskillende kognitiewe strategiee op die prestasie van twee eksperimentele groepe te bepaal. In die veldstudie is vraelyste gholfspelers (N=57) wat aan gegee die aan professionele suid-Afrikaanse TweeJongegezellen Meesterstoernooi op Stellenbosch deelgeneem het. Die vraelys was daarop gemik om die mate waartoe hierdie gholfspelers gestruktureerde sielkundige strategiee aanwend voordat hulle die bal slaan, te bepaal. Resultate toon aan dat plaaslike gholfspelers nie oor voldoende kennis van sielkundige tegnieke en die aanwending daarvan beskik nie. Die eksperimentele strategiee kon in twee duidelike komponente verdeel word: 'n Kognitiewe komponent en 'n gedragskomponent. Die gedragskomponent van die eksperimentele groepe was dieselfde en het die vorm aangeneem van 'n meganiese roetine wat die hou voorafgaan. proefpersone moes 'n stapsgewyse roetine aanleer wat hulle voor elke sethou moes herhaal. Hierdie gedragstrategie kan as 'n primere strategie beskou word, aangesien dit die persoon in staat stel om al die relevante inligting uit die omgewing wat nodig is om 'n geskikte motoriese program te formuleer, in te neem. Die kognitiewe komponent is daarop gemik, om die primere strategie meer doel treffend te laat werk. Volgens singer (1984) kan hierdie kognitiewe komponent dus as 'n sekondere strategie beskou word. Albei eksperementele groepe is geleer hoe om die sentreringstegni~k .van Nideffer (1986) te gebruik. Net een eksperimentele groep het opleiding in ontspannings- en beeldingsvaardighede ontvang. Manlike amateurgholfspelers met enkelsyfervoorgee (N=24) het aandie studie deelgeneem. Proefpersone is lukraak toegewys aan een van drie groepe: (a) 'n Groep met die aandagroetiene wat die hou voorafgaan (n=8) ; (b) 'n groep met 'n aandagroetine wat beelding en ontspanning insluit (n=8); en (c) 'n kontrolegroep (n=8). Al die proefpersone het voor en na die eksperimentele program van vyf weke 'n setspeltoets afgele. Die setspeltoets het in 'n laboratorium plaasgevind waar 'n setperk aangele is. Sodoende kon maksimum kontrole oor eksterne veranderlikes uitgeofen word terwyl kompetisietoestande geskep is. Gedurende die toets het proefpersone sestien sethoue van agt verskillende afstande af gespeel. Standaard instruksies is aan elke proefpersoon voorgelees. Die eksperimentele groepe het oor 'n tydperk van vyf weke 'n reeks lesings bygewoon. Eksperimentele groep A het vyf lesings en ekserimentele groep B sewe lesings bygewoon waartydens getikte aantekeninge uitgedeel is waarin die teorie agter die tegnieke wat aangeleer is, verduidelik is. Die laaste lesing is aan die toepassing van hierdie tegnieke gewy. Alhoewel albei eksperimentele groepe verbeter het, het die toets resultate getoon dat net die eksperimentele groep wat beelding en ontspanning aangeleer het, beduidend verbeter het. Die resultate dui daarop dat die gebruik van 'n gestruktureerde aandagroetine wat die hou voorafgaan en wat beelding en ontspanning insluit, tot meer konsekwente setspeltellings vir gholfspelers sal lei. Die gevolgtrekking wat uit hierdie resultate gemaak kan word was in ooreenstemming met diegestelde hipotese. 'n Aantal teoriee, waaronder die skema-teorie' (Schmidt, 1988), die gestelde hipotese, en die teorie van informasieprosessering, word voorgestel om te verklaar waarom die gebruik van strategiee prestasie verbeter.

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