The Effect of Variability of Practice on the Performance of the Layout Squat Vault

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This study focuses on Schema Theory which maintains that the practice of motor skiIIs store a set of general memory of movements. This memory guides the performance of demands specifically made from the environment as well as the objective or goal of the performer. The layout squat vault was selected as the motor task to be studied, since it is a basic vault of gymnastics. The most important factor of a good vault is the angle of the hips and shoulders to the horse at the moment of contact by the hands. It was hypothesized that if Schema Theory is applicable, subjects who practice vaulting at varying heights will achieve a better angle of contact with the horse than wiII subjects who practice when the vault remains at a constant height. The investigation examined the effects of varied heights of the vault during practice to the transfer of new tasks. The study specifically studied the Schema Theory in the performance of the layout squat vault at the time of contact with the horse. Subjects were 38 females, aged 9 to 11 years, who were randomly assigned to two groups. One group practiced at a single height; the other group practiced vaulting at varying heights for 36 practice trails over a period of two days. When this was completed, three consecutive vaults were assigned at a new height for each subject of both groups. At the same time, the subjects were video-taped. Using the tape, four qualified judges scored each of the subjects. The highest and lowest scores for each vault were eliminated. The two remaining scores were averaged to produce the final score. The Students t test for the difference of means was used to determine the differences between the groups. The results showed that the high variability practice group was superior to the non variability practice group. It was concluded that Schema Theory could be applied to closed skills such as vaulting in gymnastics and that there was support for the Schema Theory.