Intra-individual movement variability during skill transitions: A useful marker?

Carson, H.J. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3785-606X, Collins, D., orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454 and Richards, J. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4004-3115 (2014) Intra-individual movement variability during skill transitions: A useful marker? European Journal of Sport Science, 14 (4). pp. 327-336. ISSN 1746-1391

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Applied research suggests athletes and coaches need to be challenged in knowing when and how much a movement should be consciously attended to. This is exacerbated when the skill is in transition between two more stable states, such as when an already well learnt skill is being refined. Using existing theory and research, this paper highlights the potential application of movement variability as a tool to inform a coach’s decision-making process when implementing a systematic approach to technical refinement. Of particular interest is the structure of co-variability between mechanical degrees-of-freedom (e.g., joints) within the movement system’s entirety when undergoing a skill transition. Exemplar data from golf are presented, demonstrating the link between movement variability and mental effort as an important feature of automaticity, and thus intervention design throughout the different stages of refinement. Movement variability was shown to reduce when mental effort directed towards an individual aspect of the skill was high (target variable). The opposite pattern was apparent for variables unrelated to the technical refinement. Therefore, two related indicators, movement variability and mental effort, are offered as a basis through which the evaluation of automaticity during technical refinements may be made.

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