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17-08-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2017 Open Access

Psychological Research 5/2017

The interaction between practice and performance pressure on the planning and control of fast target directed movement

Psychological Research > Uitgave 5/2017
Jonathan E. Allsop, Gavin P. Lawrence, Robert Gray, Michael A. Khan


Pressure to perform often results in decrements to both outcome accuracy and the kinematics of motor skills. Furthermore, this pressure–performance relationship is moderated by the amount of accumulated practice or the experience of the performer. However, the interactive effects of performance pressure and practice on the underlying processes of motor skills are far from clear. Movement execution involves both an offline pre-planning process and an online control process. The present experiment aimed to investigate the interaction between pressure and practice on these two motor control processes. Two groups of participants (control and pressure; N = 12 and 12, respectively) practiced a video aiming amplitude task and were transferred to either a non-pressure (control group) or a pressure condition (pressure group) both early and late in practice. Results revealed similar accuracy and movement kinematics between the control and pressure groups at early transfer. However, at late transfer, the introduction of pressure was associated with increased performance compared to control conditions. Analysis of kinematic variability throughout the movement suggested that the performance increase was due to participants adopting strategies to improve movement planning in response to pressure reducing the effectiveness of the online control system.

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