Can we benefit from motor imagery practice when we have difficulty imagining ourselves?
Keywords:serve, beginner, motor imagery, tennis
The aim of this study was to test whether imagery ability (i.e., ease or difficulty in creating clear and vivid mental images in one's head) could influence the speed of service learning in beginner tennis players when the latter benefited from a motor imagery (MI) practice combined with real practice during their training sessions. The results of this experiment show an improvement in the speed and percentage of success (measured with a tablet equipped with Swingvision software) and in the quality of services (evaluated by expert tennis coaches) of the participants who performed MI before serving. Additionally, the results show that although players who had difficulty imagining themselves serving performed worse than players who performed MI easily, after 10 sessions, their performance was similar after 20 sessions of serving. Serving being a complex motor skill, we recommend that coaches and trainers use IM, in addition to real practice, even when players have difficulty generating and using mental images: it will then be a question of to increase their amount of practice.
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