Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 5, pp 1051–1058 | Cite as

Choices enhance punching performance of competitive kickboxers

  • Israel Halperin
  • Dale W. Chapman
  • David T. Martin
  • Rebecca Lewthwaite
  • Gabriele Wulf
Original Article


While self-controlled practice has been shown to enhance motor learning with various populations and novel tasks, it remains unclear if such effects would be found with athletes completing familiar tasks. Study 1 used a single case-study design with a world-champion kickboxer. We investigated whether giving the athlete a choice over the order of punches would affect punching velocity and impact force. Separated by 1 min of rest, the athlete completed 2 rounds of 12 single, maximal effort punches (lead straight, rear straight, lead hook and rear hook) delivered to a punching integrator in a counterbalanced order over six testing days. In one round the punches were delivered in a predetermined order while in the second round the order was self-selected by the athlete. In the choice condition, the world champion punched with greater velocities (6–11 %) and impact forces (5–10 %). In Study 2, the same testing procedures were repeated with 13 amateur male kickboxers over 2 testing days. Similar to Study 1, the athletes punched with significantly greater velocities (6 %, p < 0.05) and normalised impact forces (2 %, p < 0.05) in the choice condition. These findings complement research on autonomy support in motor learning by demonstrating immediate advantages in force production and velocity with experienced athletes.


Impact Force Elite Athlete Autonomy Support Choice Condition Motor Skill Learning 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was required for this study.

Conflict of interest

Israel Halperin declares that he has no conflict of interest. Dale Chapman declares that he has no conflict of interest. David Martin declares that he has no conflict of interest. Rebecca Lewthwaite declares that she has no conflict of interest. Gabriele Wulf declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Israel Halperin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dale W. Chapman
    • 1
    • 2
  • David T. Martin
    • 2
  • Rebecca Lewthwaite
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gabriele Wulf
    • 5
  1. 1.Edith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Institute of SportCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation CenterDowneyUSA
  4. 4.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.University of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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