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Suggested Citation:"Abstract." National Research Council. 1988. Enhancing Human Performance: Background Papers, Improving Motor Performance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/782.
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Rental Practice Abstract The effect of mental practice on subsequent performance of a motor skill has been the subject of many reviews. The present review of mental practice effects differed from previous reviews by examining: (1) learning effects by means of effect sizes for pretest-to-posttest differences, (2) mental practice effects compared to no practice, physical practice, and mental and physical practice, and (3) effect sizes using more contemporary meta-analytic procedures recommended by Hedges and Olkin (1985). An overview of meta-analytic procedures is also presented. From the 48 studies identified as having pretest/posttest comparisons, the overall average effect size for all practice conditions was 0.43 p<.05). Analysis of categorical comparisons among practice conditions revealed that physical practice had the largest effect size followed by combined practice, mental practice, and no practice (control) conditions. This ordering of effect sizes was also found for moderating variables of task type (motor tasks) and dependent measures (accuracy tasks). None of the other moderating variables were statistically significant. These findings are discussed in relation to: (a) the conclusions advanced by previous reviewers of the mental practice literature, and (b) varying ratios of physical to mental practice for enhancing learning of motor skills.

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