Research on motor behavioural processes preceding voluntary movements often refers to analysing the readiness potential (RP). For this, decades of studies used laboratory setups with controlled sports-related actions. Further, recent applied approaches focus on athlete-non-athlete comparisons, omitting possible effects of training history on RP. However, RP preceding real sport-specific movements in accordance to skill acquisition remains to be elucidated. Therefore, after familiarization 16 right-handed males with no experience in archery volunteered to perform repeated sports-specific movements, i.e. 40 arrow-releasing shots at 60 s rest on a 15 m distant standard target. Continuous, synchronised EEG and right limb EMG recordings during arrow-releasing served to detect movement onsets for RP analyses over distinct cortical motor areas. Based on attained scores on target, archery novices were, a posteriori, subdivided into a skilled and less skilled group. EMG results for mean values revealed no significant changes (all p > 0.05), whereas RP amplitudes and onsets differed between groups but not between motor areas. Arrow-releasing preceded larger RP amplitudes (p < 0.05) and later RP onsets (p < 0.05) in skilled compared to less skilled novices. We suggest this to reflect attentional orienting and greater effort that accompanies central neuronal preparatory states of a sports-specific movement.
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