The effect of covert and overt practice on performance



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Purpose: Since covert rehearsal has been recognized as a method of learning it was the intent of this study to investigate the effect of order in which covert rehearsal and physical practice were introduced to individuals while practicing a juggling task. An investigation was also made to determine the effect of order on individuals who had previous physical practice at juggling and individuals who had no previous practice. Method: The motor task used in this study was the juggling of two yellow tennis balls in the dominant hand. Each subject was pre-tested on their juggling ability prior to the introduction of the experimental practice variables and the post-tested at the end of the experiment. The data collected from these tests was used in assessing each subject’s improvement score. One hundred and forty-two students selected from the activity service courses offered at Sam Houston State University were assigned to either a beginner group (Gr. B), or a pre-practiced group (Gr. P). Each one of these groups was then divided into five sections and each section practiced one-handed juggling for five minutes of six days using one of the following five experimental practice variables: (1) listening and concentrating to music on a tape recorder (Control Group), (2) covert rehearsal as directed by a tape recording, (3) physical practice, (4) three days of covert rehearsal as directed by a tape recording followed by three days of physical practice, (5) three days of physical practice followed by three days of covert rehearsal as directed by a tape recording. To obtain a pre-practiced level the subjects assigned to Gr. P physically practiced juggling for a combined total of thirty minutes prior to beginning the experimental practice variables. The subjects in Gr. B did not participate in early practice. Summary and Evaluation: A one-way analysis of variance was performed on the pre-test scores of the beginner and pre-practiced groups to determine if Gr. P was more skilled at juggling. The results showed a significant difference. Thus, Gr. P entered the experimental practice variables with a higher degree of skill than Gr. B. A two-way analysis of variance was calculated to evaluate the improvement scores. The analysis of these scores indicated a significant main effect for the practice methods and a significant main effect for the practice methods and a significant main effect for the interaction. The interaction effect required further analysis of the group scores, so a simple effects analysis was performed for both the skill level and practice condition. The results indicated that the practice methods had a significant effect for both Gr. B and Gr. P and it also showed that Gr. B and Gr. P were significantly different under covert-physical and physical practice conditions. A Newman-Keuls analysis was then performed on Gr. B across practice conditions and on Gr. P across conditions to further locate the significance. The results of the beginner group showed physical practice to be significantly different from the other practice methods, and thus, the best method of practice for beginners. The results of the pre-practiced group indicated the covert-physical combination of practice to be the best method. Physical practice, although not as effective a method as covert-physical, also showed improvement for Gr. P.



Physical education and training--Research., Motor ability--Research.