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The connection between cognitive movement representations and movement implementation under the conditions of an accompanied-athletic training in rhythmic gymnastics.

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Mental training aims to improve the foundation for cognitive regulation of complex movement performance. When mental representation of a sport skill is improved with the aid of systematic techniques, performance is enhanced considerably. The computer-aided tool "Gymnastic-Mental" should be tested during training practice to make mental training more effective and to improve motor performance. As a result of the testing, we looked for a training means that could be used in rhythmic gymnastics to optimize the training technique. In the "Gymnastic-Mental"-programme are selected model examples of sport-specific body techniques and combination techniques as figures. This system can influence the internal movement representations over the visual and acoustic analyzer. The pictures of the technique are to be arranged in the correct order for the movement. Indicators for quantifying the effects of practising and of cognitive learning gain are defined using the "error rate" as a measurement for accuracy of action and "cognitive time consumption" as a measurement for time taken to make decisions and hence availability of representation pattern. A group of 8 top-level gymnasts were tested. The cognitive and motor components were concurrently examined in pre- and post-tests. Mental Training was carried out on a daily basis over a one-week period. Practice was being done during this week, as well as for another seven weeks. The athletes were video recorded before and after the period of practicing. Data were collected and analysed with SIMI Motion. We looked for biomechanical parameters which are demonstrated the quality of the movement implementation. For our selected technique "double diving turn backward" a low back bend and big amplitude of the legs are important parameters. A significant improvement in learning was found. After one week of mental practice, 95% of the pictures were assigned correctly during the post-test conditions. The time required to select the pictures decreased on average about 80.6%. A significant improvement of the accomplishment could be proved after a period of seven weeks. The back bend increased on average about 15° and the angle between the legs about 8°. After one-week period of mental training exercise, it can be assumed that the programme supports mental learning (basic structure of the movement) and allows the control of movement association. As a result, mistakes associated with an incorrect movement can be assessed and removed. It becomes clear that the motor implementation still shows considerable deficienies. At the time a quantitative evaluation of the biomecanical parameters takes place.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2006

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