Developing skilled motor performance: A systematic review of perceptual skill training in children and youth


Acquiring perceptual motor skill capabilities is an important element of successful sport performance. Perceptual motor skills have shown to be trainable in an adult population; however, less is known about perceptual motor skill training at earlier, developmental stages of long term athlete development. The purpose of this systematic review was to critically evaluate the available evidence for the trainability of perceptual motor skills in children and youth. Original research articles were retrieved systematically through searching electronic databases (PubMed (OVID), PsychInfo (EBSCO), EMBASE (OVID), and SPORTDiscus (EBSCO)) and articles examining perceptual motor training interventions in children and youth were included in the analysis. Twelve articles were identified, including 638 participants with an average age of 11 y. Primary outcome measures varied with an emphasis on the training of anticipatory skills, coincident anticipation time, simple reaction time, and choice reaction time. Findings showed that 10 out of the 12 investigations showed post-intervention improvements in the respective perceptual motor skill when compared to baseline. While there has been a limited number of studies examining perceptual motor skill training in children and youth cohorts to date, this systematic analysis suggests that perceptual motor skill training in childhood/youth may have benefits in sport development. Further research is warranted into examining perceptual motor skill development and training protocols in the context of long term athlete development in children and youth for optimizing sport performance.

Acknowledgments: Funding is provided by a University of British Columbia Graduate Fellowship to the first author.