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Fundamentals of Motor Behavior

Fundamentals of Motor Behavior


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    Motor behavior is a fascinating field of study with real-world applications in a variety of careers. Fundamentals of Motor Behavior provides students with an excellent introductory-level look at the goals and opportunities in this exciting area. Engaging and reader-friendly, the text will enable those with little or no background in motor behavior to see the objectives that researchers and practitioners in the field pursue, the career options available, and the education required for pursuing a career in the field.

    One of the many strengths of Fundamentals of Motor Behavior is its focus on the real-world application of the information presented. The text takes concepts taught in advanced motor behavior courses and shows how they are relevant to everyday living. With this approach, even students who know nothing about motor behavior will feel comfortable learning new terms and material.

    The text begins by defining what motor behavior is and what students can do with it, including various academic and professional career paths. It then discusses the concepts and principles of motor behavior that form the foundation of knowledge that students will need in order to pursue a career in the field. These building blocks include the process of observation, how people control their movements, ways people learn motor skills, the capabilities and limitations each person brings to a learning situation, and ways in which practice settings can be structured. The book closes with an inspiring vision of the future of motor behavior that will enable students to see how they may eventually fit into the field and contribute to it.

    The author takes advantage of a full array of reader-friendly elements to engage students in the ideas and help them understand how they apply in the real world:

    • Chapter objectives outline the reader’s goals for each chapter, and chapter summaries tie together the important points.
    • Opening scenarios set the stage for the content to come.
    • Technology highlight boxes feature applications that today’s researchers and professionals are using to analyze movement and advance the field.
    • Skill Insights draw readers into the material by posing “did you know?” types of questions and revealing some surprising information.
    • Success Stories highlight how researchers and professionals apply their knowledge of motor behavior to their jobs and explore possible career paths.
    • An appendix includes checklists for using the material in various professional settings, which reinforces the real-world application of the concepts.

    This entertaining book is part of Human Kinetics’ Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Science series. The series helps students and professionals understand the basic topics, goals, and applications of the subdisciplines in kinesiology. This and other books in the series are not intended to provide in-depth knowledge of the field, but rather to provide a solid grounding that readers can use as a jumping-off point for further study.

    Fundamentals of Motor Behavior presents a new and exciting look at the discipline that will motivate every student, regardless of background, to continue exploring the many rewards the field has to offer.


    A textbook for community college and undergraduate students in motor behavior, learning, control, or development survey courses. A reference for high school guidance counselors, university placement centers, and libraries.

    Table of Contents

    Part I. Welcome to Motor Behavior

    Chapter 1. What Is Motor Behavior?
    Practical Application
    Three Subdisciplines
    A Brief History of Motor Behavior
    Related Fields of Study
    The Short of It

    Chapter 2. What Can I Do With Motor Behavior?
    Academic Path
    Professional Paths
    A Side Path
    The Short of It

    Part II. Building Blocks of Motor Behavior
    Taking a Systematic Approach
    Accounting for the Person, the Task, and the Performance Setting
    Information Processing

    Chapter 3. Observing Behavior
    Closed and Open Skills
    Discrete, Serial, and Continuous Skills
    Observation: A Critical Key to Understanding Motor Behavior
    The Short of It

    Chapter 4. Understanding How We Control Movements
    Sources of Sensory Information
    Continuous Control
    No-Feedback Control
    Combining Continuous and No-Feedback Control
    The Short of It

    Chapter 5. Understanding How We Learn Motor Skills
    Theories of How We Learn
    Ways We Learn Motor Skills
    The Short of It

    Chapter 6. Capabilities and Limitations
    Information Processing
    Reacting Faster: Ways to Reduce the Time Spent on Information Processing
    How We Pay Attention
    What We Pay Attention to Makes a Difference
    Arousal and Performance
    Speed–Accuracy Trade-Offs
    Abilities and Skills
    The Short of It

    Chapter 7. Setting Practice Procedures
    Constant and Varied Practice
    Blocked and Random Practice
    Practice Distribution
    Deciding How to Design Practice
    The Short of It

    Chapter 8. Putting It All Together: The Motor Skill Learning Cycle
    Phase 1: Consider the Person, Task, and Performance Setting
    Phase 2: Plan for Practice
    Phase 3: Implement Practice
    Phase 4: Review the Overall Instructional Process
    The Short of It

    Epilogue: The Future of Motor Behavior
    Appendix A: Learn More About Motor Behavior
    Appendix B: Implementing Motor Behavior in the Real World
    About the Author

    About the Author

    Jeffrey T. Fairbrother is an associate professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on motor learning and control and a graduate course on expert performance in sports. His research focuses on the effects that factors related to the performance setting (such as practice schedules) have on the performance and learning of motor skills. He established a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine to investigate the effectiveness of self-controlled feedback on marksmanship training. In addition to his laboratory-based research, his scholarly publications include an article on the forensic analysis of a collapsed portable playpen that killed a child and an article on the take-off maneuver in the sport of surfing. Dr. Fairbrother is an active member of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, and he chaired the Motor Learning/Control Program Committee for their 2006 annual meeting. He also serves as a section editor in motor learning and control for Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.


    Dr. Fairbrother earned a PhD in movement science with a specialization in motor behavior from FloridaState University, an MS in physical education from CaliforniaPolytechnicStateUniversity, and a BA in English form the University of California at Santa Barbara.