Motor Behavior

Chapter 5


Motor Behavior           

nDefine motor behavior, motor development, motor control, and motor learning.

nWhat is the influence of readiness, motor development, motivation, reinforcement, and individuals differences on the learning of motor skills?

nWhat is the information-processing model of motor learning and the concepts related to it?

nHow do the concepts of feedback, design of practice, and transfer apply to physical education, exercise science, and sport?



nLearning is a relatively permanent change in behavior or performance as a result of instruction, experiences, study, and/or practice.

nLearning is inferred from changes in performance.

nMotor behavior is concerned with the learning or acquisition of skills across the lifespan.

nMotor learning

nMotor control

nMotor development


Goals of Motor Behavior         

nUnderstand how motor skills are learned

nUnderstand how motor skills are controlled

nUnderstand how learning and control of motor skills changes across the lifespan


Motor Behavior

nMotor learning

nStudy of the acquisition of skills as a consequence of practice.

nMotor control

nStudy of the neural mechanisms and processes by which movements are learned and controlled.

nMotor development

nStudy of the origins and changes in movement behavior throughout the lifespan


Historical Development of Motor Learning and Motor Control

nEarly Period (1880-1940)

nResearch focused on how did mind worked, not the production of skills.

nThorndike: Law of Effect

nWhen responses were rewarded, the behavior strengthened.

nMiddle Period (1940-1970)

nCraik focused research on how the brain processes and uses information to determine the motor response.


n“Memory drum theory” (role of cognitive activity in motor learning)


Historical Development of Motor Learning and Motor Control

nPresent Period (1970-present)

nEmergence of motor learning and motor control within physical education programs.

nClosed Loop theory (Adams)

nSchema theory (Schmidt)

nDynamical Systems theory (Kelso)


Areas of Study

nHow does the type and frequency of feedback impact skill acquisition?

nHow does the structure of practice influence the retention of skills?

nWhat can be done to facilitate the transfer of previous learning to the learning of new skills?

nHow does the aging process affect motor control?

nHow do differences in individuals’ learning styles influence their ability to learn motor skills?


Information Processing Model


nInformation from the environment through the senses.


nInput evaluation and integration with past information.

nResponse selection


nResponse execution


nInformation about the performance and quality of the movement. Information gained here can guide future interpretations, decisions, and responses.


Stages of Learning

nCognitive Stage

nUnderstanding of the nature and goal of the activity to be learned

nInitial attempts at the skill - gross errors

nAssociative Stage

nPractice on mastering the timing of the skill

nFewer and more consistent errors

nAutonomous Stage

nWell coordinated and appears effortless

nFew errors

n“Automatic” performance allows attention to be directed to other aspects of skill performance

Factors Influencing Learning


nPhysiological and psychological factors influencing an individual’s ability and willingness to learn.


nA condition within an individual that initiates activity directed toward a goal. (Needs and drives are necessary.)


nUsing events, actions, and behaviors to increase the likelihood of a certain response recurring. May be positive or negative.

nIndividual differences

nBackgrounds, abilities, intelligence, learning styles, and personalities of students


Motor Learning Concepts

nStructure practice sessions to promote optimal conditions for learning.

nLearners must understand the task to be learned.

nDesign practice according to the skill or task to be learned.

nWhether to teach by the whole or the part method depends on the skill and the learner.

nWhether speed or accuracy is emphasized in teaching a skill depends on the requirements of the skill.


Motor Learning Concepts

nTransfer of learning can facilitate the acquisition of motor skills.

nFeedback is essential for learning.

nKnowledge of results (KR)

nKnowledge of performance (KP)

nLearners may experience plateaus in learning.

nSelf-analysis should be developed.

n Leadership influences the amount of learning.


Motor Development

nStudy of the origins and changes in movement behavior throughout the lifespan.

nBiological and environmental influences on motor behavior from infancy to old age.

nInfluence of psychological, sociological, cognitive, biological, and mechanical factors on motor behavior.

nRate and sequence of development.


Historical Development

nMaturational Period (1928-1946)

nResearch on the underlying biological processes guiding maturation.

nThe rate and sequences of motor development from infancy in terms of acquisition of rudimentary and mature movements.

nNormative/Descriptive Period (1946-1970s)

nDescription of the motor performances of children.

nResearch on how growth and maturation affect performance and the impact of perceptual-motor development.

nProcess-Oriented Period (1980s-present)

nResearch on how cognitive factors influence motor skill acquisition and motor development based on dynamical systems theory.


Areas of Study

nWhat are the heredity and environmental factors most significantly associated with obesity?

nAt what age can children safely engage in resistance training?

nHow does socioeconomic status affect the development of motor skills?

nHow does early sensory stimulation affect the development of motor skills?

nWhat are the changes in motor skill development experienced across the lifespan?


nEarly reflexive and rudimentary movement phases:

nHereditary is the primary factor for development. Sequential progression of development but individuals’ rates of development will differ.

nFundamental movement phase:

nSkill acquisition based on encouragement, instruction, and opportunities for practice.

nSpecialized movement phase

nRefinement of skills

n“Turnover”: Hereditary and environmental factors that influence the rate of the aging process.


Fundamental Motor Skills        

nFundamental motor skills are the foundation for development of more complex and specialized motor skills used in games, sports, dance, and fitness activities.


Fundamental Motor Skills





nRate of progress in developing these skills varies with each individual.

nSeveral fundamental motor skills can be combined to create a specialized movement necessary in an activity.

nLack of development of fundamental skills may hinder future participation in activities.


Fundamental Movement Phase

nInitial Stage (~ age 2)

nPoor spatial and temporal integration of skill movements.

nImproper sequencing of the parts of the skill

nPoor rhythm, difficulties in coordination

nElementary Stage (~ age 3 & 4)

nGreater control and rhythmical coordination

nTemporal and spatial elements are better synchronized.

nMovements are still restricted, exaggerated, or inconsistent.

nMature Stage (~age 5 or 6)

nIncreased efficiency, enhanced coordination, and improved control of movements.

nGreater force production