Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to compare combinations of physical and mental practice methods in learning a motor skill. An experiment was conducted at the University of New Mexico to test the hypothesis that combinations of mental and physical practice would be just as affective learning methods as would the use of total physical practice. Thirty-nine male university students, selected from physical education activity classes, were put into one of four groups by a method of random selection. The four groups used in the experiment were: control, physical, and two combination groups. The two combination groups practiced the motor skill both physically and mentally. These four groups took an initial test on a novel motor skill. They then practiced the skill for seven days. The experiment was completed with a final test of the skill they had practiced.

The significance of the difference between the pretest and posttest scores of a motor skill was determined by as analysis of variance. This procedure was applied to the four groups in the experiment. It was found that the physical practice group and on of the combination groups that practiced the skill one-third of the time physically and two-thirds of the time mentally, had significant increases in learning at the one per cent level of confidence. The other combination group, that practiced the skill two-thirds of the time physically and one-third of the time mentally, had an increase in learning of the skill; but, this increase was not significant at the one per cent level of confidence. The control group had a very small increase in learning which was not significant at the one per cent level of confidence.

Subjective data were taken on those subjects in the combination groups who had participated in some form of mental practice. Those subjects answered questions orally during the experiment and also completed a short list of questions at the end of the experiment. Results from those questions indicated that the subjects generally thought that mental practice had helped improve concentration on the skill and played a part in their improved ability.

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lloyd Robert Burley

Second Committee Member

Frank Edward Papcsy

Third Committee Member

Woodrow Wilson Clements

Fourth Committee Member

John Alban Montgomery