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Practice *

Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


We've all heard that "practice makes perfect," but what is the best way to practice? For example, does "mental practice" do any good? You'll need at least 9 volunteers for this project. Pick a well-defined sports activity, with a measurable outcome, such as shooting basketball free-throws (measure number of shots taken and number of shots made), or balancing on one foot on a slightly raised beam (measure how long you can do it; if it's too easy, try closing your eyes). Test all volunteers and record their performance. Assign one group to physically practice the activity daily for a specified amount of time; assign a second group to mentally practice the activity daily for the same amount of time; assign a third group to refrain from practicing the activity. Test performance of all volunteers again both 1 and 2 weeks later. Another idea: does it make a difference if your practice time is done all at once (e.g., one 5-minute session) or spread out during the day (e.g. five 1-minute sessions)? (Wiese, 2002, pp. 11-13; 16-18.)

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Last edit date: 2014-06-30


Wiese, J, 2002. Sports Science: 40 Goal-Scoring, High-Flying, Medal-Winning Experiments for Kids. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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