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Action Observation Combined With Conventional Training Improves the Rugby Lineout Throwing Performance: A Pilot Study

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      Abstract

      Combining action observation (AO) and physical practice contributes to motor skill learning, and a number of studies pointed out the beneficial role of AO training in improving the motor performance and the athletes' movement kinematics. The aim of this study was to investigate if AO combined with immediate conventional training was able to improve motor performance and kinematic parameters of a complex motor skill such as the lineout throw, a gesture that represents a key aspect of rugby, that is unique to this sport. Twenty elite rugby players were divided into two groups. The AO group watched a 5-min video-clip of an expert model performing the lineout throw toward a target at 7 m distance and, immediately after the AO, this group executed the conventional training, consisting of six repetitions x five blocks of throws. The CONTROL group performed only the conventional lineout training. Intervention period lasted 4 weeks, 3 sessions/week. The AO group showed significant improvements in throwing accuracy (i.e., number of throws hitting the target), whilst no significant changes were observed in the CONTROL group. As concerns kinematic parameters, hooker's arm mean velocity significantly increased in both groups, but the increase was higher in AO group compared to CONTROL group. Ball velocity significantly increased only in the AO group, whereas ball angle release and ball spinning significantly decreased in both groups, with no differences between groups. Finally, no significant changes in knee and elbow angles were observed. Our results showed that the combination of AO and conventional training was more effective than a conventional training alone in improving the performance of elite rugby players, in executing a complex motor skill, such as the lineout. This combined training led to significant improvements in throwing accuracy and in hooker's and ball's kinematic parameters. Since AO can be easily implemented in combination with conventional training, the results of this study can encourage coaches in designing specific lineout training programs, which include AO cognitive training.

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      Most cited references 63

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      The mirror-neuron system.

      A category of stimuli of great importance for primates, humans in particular, is that formed by actions done by other individuals. If we want to survive, we must understand the actions of others. Furthermore, without action understanding, social organization is impossible. In the case of humans, there is another faculty that depends on the observation of others' actions: imitation learning. Unlike most species, we are able to learn by imitation, and this faculty is at the basis of human culture. In this review we present data on a neurophysiological mechanism--the mirror-neuron mechanism--that appears to play a fundamental role in both action understanding and imitation. We describe first the functional properties of mirror neurons in monkeys. We review next the characteristics of the mirror-neuron system in humans. We stress, in particular, those properties specific to the human mirror-neuron system that might explain the human capacity to learn by imitation. We conclude by discussing the relationship between the mirror-neuron system and language.
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        Neural simulation of action: a unifying mechanism for motor cognition.

         M Jeannerod (2001)
        Paradigms drawn from cognitive psychology have provided new insight into covert stages of action. These states include not only intending actions that will eventually be executed, but also imagining actions, recognizing tools, learning by observation, or even understanding the behavior of other people. Studies using techniques for mapping brain activity, probing cortical excitability, or measuring the activity of peripheral effectors in normal human subjects and in patients all provide evidence of a subliminal activation of the motor system during these cognitive states. The hypothesis that the motor system is part of a simulation network that is activated under a variety of conditions in relation to action, either self-intended or observed from other individuals, will be developed. The function of this process of simulation would be not only to shape the motor system in anticipation to execution, but also to provide the self with information on the feasibility and the meaning of potential actions. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
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          Motor facilitation during action observation: a magnetic stimulation study.

          1. We stimulated the motor cortex of normal subjects (transcranial magnetic stimulation) while they 1) observed an experimenter grasping 3D-objects, 2) looked at the same 3D-objects, 3) observed an experimenter tracing geometrical figures in the air with his arm, and 4) detected the dimming of a light. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from hand muscles. 2. We found that MEPs significantly increased during the conditions in which subjects observed movements. The MEP pattern reflected the pattern of muscle activity recorded when the subjects executed the observed actions. 3. We conclude that in humans there is a system matching action observation and execution. This system resembles the one recently described in the monkey.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of Human Physiology, University of Genoa , Genoa, Italy
            2Centro Polifunzionale di Scienze Motorie, University of Genoa , Genoa, Italy
            3Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal, and Child Health, University of Genoa , Genoa, Italy
            4Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, IRCCS , Genoa, Italy
            Author notes

            Edited by: Ana-Maria Cebolla, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

            Reviewed by: Corinne Jola, Abertay University, United Kingdom; Donatella Di Corrado, Kore University of Enna, Italy

            *Correspondence: Elisa Pelosin elisapelosin@ 123456gmail.com

            This article was submitted to Movement Science and Sport Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-1078
            24 April 2019
            2019
            : 10
            6491509 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00889
            Copyright © 2019 Faelli, Strassera, Pelosin, Perasso, Ferrando, Bisio and Ruggeri.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Counts
            Figures: 6, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 66, Pages: 10, Words: 8051
            Categories
            Psychology
            Original Research

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