chapter  40
16 Pages

Developmental and biomechanical characteristics of motor skill learning

ByJin H. Yan, Bruce Abernethy, Jerry R. Thomas

Motor skill learning is one of the most fascinating human experiences. From early childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to early adulthood, and finally from adulthood to the later stages of life, humans continue to acquire motor skills through learning and practice. Cross-sectional experiments on sensory-motor skills suggest that the pattern of human motor and cognitive development over a lifetime resembles an inverted ‘U’ shape (e.g., Yan et al., 2000). Humans improve motor and cognitive performance in early phases of life and most people reach a peak level of performance and maintain consistent performance during adulthood. In late adulthood, motor and cognitive performance generally deteriorates. A lifespan developmental approach provides a legitimate and natural framework for studying human motor behaviour because it reflects key changes and events that evolve over the course of human development (e.g., locomotion, growth, puberty, maturation, schooling, and aging). These changes influencing motor performance can be genetic or environmental in nature (or a combination of both). Knowledge of lifelong motor performance is required for the design and selection of developmentally appropriate activities to facilitate the teaching and learning of movement skills for people of all ages and ability levels.