An Examination of the Influence of Guided Practice on Overhand Throwing Competence in Preschool Children in a Mastery Motivational Climate
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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It is widely accepted that fundamental motor skills (FMS) are considered the building blocks for successful participation in sports and physical activity for children, adolescents, and adults (Haywood & Getchell, 2014), and that individuals must be able to master these skill patterns before they can engage in more complex movement patterns, games, and activities. To date, several studies have shown significant changes in fundamental motor skill development in children as a result of being exposed to purposeful motor-skill interventions (Tompsett, Sanders, Taylor, & Cobley, 2017). Previous research has highlighted the importance of skill practice, but there is little information on how much or what type of practice is necessary for optimal skill development in young children. Of the FMS, overhand throwing is an important and complex action that is widely used and assimilated into a variety of sports. Moreover, there is evidence that fundamental motor skill competence, including overhand throwing, during childhood predicts adolescent and adult physical activity (Barnett, van Beurden, Morgan, Brooks, & Beard, 2009; Jaakkola, Yli‐Piipari, Huotari, Watt, & Liukkonen, 2016; Stodden, Langendorfer, & Roberton, 2009). Therefore, the importance of the development of overhand throwing may be extremely critical for future participation in many sports and games and in some cases physical activity participation. A majority of the overhand throwing research has been conducted in controlled laboratory settings. Experimental designs such as these have the potential to limit the variability in the amount of throwing practice, and while useful, may lack external validity to physical education settings where there are inherent inconsistencies in the number of practice trials across different students. To address this gap in the throwing development literature and to determine the progressions of development for throwing, variability in the number of throwing practice trials between subjects should be investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of the amount of guided throwing practice (the aggregation of the observable measures of the number of visits at the throwing station, the total amount of time spent at the station, and the number of successful trials participants attempt while at the station.) during a mastery motivational climate physical education program on different aspects of throwing competence of preschool-age children. In order to achieve the goals of the study, three specific research questions were posed. These include: (a) Does children’s throwing competence change as a result of exposure to a mastery motivational climate physical education program? (b) To what extent does the volume of guided throwing practice influence gains in throwing competence? And c) To what extent do children’s characteristics (e.g., gender and initial skill level) relate to throwing practice behaviors? Participants in this study included 54 preschoolers (24 boys, 30 girls) between the ages of 3- and 5-years old participated in a mastery motivational climate intervention that was manipulated according to Ames’ (1992a, 1992b) TARGET structures. The children participated in bi-weekly (Tuesday and Thursday) 30-minute motor skill sessions over 7 weeks for a total of 13 sessions. Pre- and post-test overhand throwing competency was measured in three ways (TGMD-3, developmental sequence for throwing, and throwing velocity). Throwing practice behaviors (visits, time, and trials) were then coded for each participant using video recordings from the sessions. A principle ‘component’ variable was created to represent the total amount of throwing practice by grouping throwing time, visits, and trials. The results identified the first factor as very strong, accounting for 86% of the variance in practice visits, practice time, and practice trials. Results from paired-samples t-tests revealed significant gains in throwing proficiency by the children from pre- to post-test on all three dependent measures. Additionally, results from multiple stepwise linear regressions highlighted that guided throwing practice volume accounted for 19% (TGMD), 52% (developmental sequence), and 60% (velocity) of the explained variance, respectively. Furthermore, findings also revealed that boys and children who were considered higher skilled spent more time practicing throwing. Together, these findings provide empirical evidence of the importance of guided practice for overhand throwing. Future research should continue to examine the relationship between guided practice and skill improvement in high autonomous and naturalistic settings to enhance FMS development in young children.