AS AQA PE Motor Programmes & Schema Theory

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Motor Programmes

Motor programmes:   Motor programmes are the way in which our brains control our movements.

There are two theories concerning this topic:

Open Loop Theory:  fast continuous movements

Closed Loop Theory: explains slow movements


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Open Loop Theory

This theory states the following:

  • Decisions are made in the brain
  • All information for one movement is sent in a single message
  • The message is received by the muscles which perform the movement
  • Feedback may or may not be available but it doesn't control the action


    This theory accounts well for fast continuous movements (e.g. a golf swing), although it does not work so well for slower movements which may involve reactions and repositioning (such as a gymnast on the balance beam). 

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Closed Loop Theory

This theory explains slow movements well but not fast movements:

  • Decisions are made in the brain
  • Not all of the information is sent together
  • Information is received by the muscles to initiate the movement
  • Feedback is always available and is vital to correct movement patterns and adjust to changing needs
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Schema Theory

SCHEMA:  All of the information needed to make a movement decision. It is stored in the brain as a long-term memory.

Recall Schema

This occurs before a movement is initiated and includes the following information which the performer must know to form a schema:

Initial Conditions:

  1. Where is the: Goal; Opposition; Team mates
  2. What is the environment like?: Grass; Astro turf; Wet or dry; Wind
  3. What condition am I in?: Fresh; Tired; Injured

Response Specification

  1. How fast do I need to go?
  2. Where do I pass the ball to?
  3. How hard do I need to kick the ball?
  4. Which techniques will produce the best results?
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Schema Theory 2

Recognition Schema

In order to correct or alter a response, the athlete needs to know:

Movement Outcomes:

From knowledge of results (KR): Success / Failure

Sensory Consequence:

From knowledge of performance (KP): How did it look (extrinsic feedback) / how did it feel (intrinsic feedback)

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