Of the various types of preperformance preparatory behavior that are acquired during motor learning, the effect of a practice motion performed just prior to execution of an actual motion is not yet fully understood. Thus, the present study employed a golf putting task to investigate how a practice motion in the preparation phase would affect the accuracy of motor control in the execution phase and how proficiency would influence this relationship. To examine the impacts on kinematics and final ball position, the velocities of practice strokes made by tour professional and amateur golfers were experimentally manipulated in the following three conditions: the equal condition, which presented a target that was at the same distance during the practice strokes and the actual stroke; the confusing condition, which had two different distances during the practice and actual strokes; and the no condition, which did not include a practice stroke. The results, based on final ball position, indicated that practice strokes in the equal condition were linked with the highest accuracy levels during the actual stroke in both professionals and amateurs. In the confusing condition, regardless of skill level, the velocity of the actual stroke was influenced by a faster or slower stroke during the pre-shot phase. These relationships between the practice and actual strokes imply that the golfers effectively utilized kinesthetic information obtained during the practice strokes as a reference for the actual stroke. Furthermore, the differences in proficiency level indicated that the club head velocity of amateurs in the no condition was significantly faster than in the equal condition. Therefore, the present results imply that the role of a practice stroke may differ between professionals and amateurs.
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