False-performance feedback does not affect punching forces and pacing of elite boxers

Posted on May 22, 2019 by

The purpose of this study was to examine how the OPTIMAL (Optimising Performance Through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning) theory of motor learning would influence punching performance.

  • Elite level boxers are not susceptible to positive and negative feedback when measured with activities that require maximal efforts over time.
  • Perceptions of success and failure elicited false augmented feedback, which may have less of an effect on performance than previously reported.
  • Athletes were able to adopt an “even” pacing strategy irrespective of the feedback being provided.

Full reference and abstract:

Halperin, I., Chapman, D. W., Thompson, K. G. & Abbiss, C. (2019). False-performance feedback does not affect punching forces and pacing of elite boxers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(1), 59-66.

Introduction: Prior research indicates that providing participants with positive augmented feedback tends to enhance motor learning and performance, whereas the opposite occurs with negative feedback. However, the majority of studies were conducted with untrained participants performing unfamiliar motor tasks and so it remains unclear if elite athletes completing familiar tasks respond in a similar fashion.

Thus, this study investigated the effects of three different versions of false-performance feedback on punching force (N), pacing (force over time) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) in 15 elite amateur male boxers.

Method: Athletes completed a simulated boxing bout consisting of three rounds with 84 maximal effort punches delivered to a punching integrator on four separate days. Day one was a familiarisation session in which no feedback was provided. In the following three days, athletes randomly received false-positive, false-negative and false-neutral feedback on their punching performance between each round.

Result: No statistical or meaningful differences were observed in punching forces, pacing or RPE between conditions (P > 0.05; ≤ 2%).

Conclusion: These null results could stem from the elite status of the athletes involved, the focus on performance rather than learning, or they may indicate that false feedback has a less potent effect on performance than previously thought.


Keywords: Verbal instructions; coaching cues; boxing; punching forces; combat sport

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