Approaches to motor learning: Cognitive approach versus ecological dinamyc one




Prescriptive teaching, Heuristic learning, Didactics exercise, Educational praxis, Affordances


The aim is to deepen the knowledge on the scientific evidence between the biomedical and pedagogical part and on the differences of the two approaches commonly used for teaching / learning processes: the cognitive and ecological-dynamic approach on one's own characteristics and specific paradigms. The retrieval of scientific literature took place through the use of specialized web research on: PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, PMCfreearticle, CrossRef by PRISMA method. Motor learning is the stabilized execution of a given movement, executive technique, or gesture. It means that in the face of a number of repetitions most are performed correctly. Cognitive approach places the person at the centre of the teaching / learning process, neglecting the inferences that the surrounding environment produces. Ecological-dynamic approach, which considers motor coordination as an organization emerging from the peripheral constraints of the system rather than from central control structures, is defined as ecological, since it does not consider the aspects of motor coordination within the individual but, more generally, the complex interaction between the individual and the environment and the circular relationship between perception and action. The characteristics and paradigms of two approaches highlight two opposite ways to motor learning with an unsolved problem on which one is correct to use in physical education and sports performance.


Download data is not yet available.


Adams, J. A. (1971). A closed-loop theory of motor learning. Journal of motor behavior, 3(2), 111-150.

Bernstein, N. (1966). The co-ordination and regulation of movements. Pergamon Press; [1st English ed.].

Bernstein, N. A. (2014). Dexterity and its development. Psychology Press.

Chow, J. Y., Davids, K., Button, C., Shuttleworth, R., Renshaw, I., & Araújo, D. (2007). The role of nonlinear pedagogy in physical education. Review of Educational Research, 77(3), 251-278.

Chow, J. Y. (2013). Nonlinear learning underpinning pedagogy: evidence, challenges, and implications. Quest, 65(4), 469-484.

Davids, K., Button, C., & Bennett, S. (2008). Dynamics of skill acquisition: A constraints-led approach. Human Kinetics.

Dhawale, A. K., Smith, M. A., & Ölveczky, B. P. (2017). The role of variability in motor learning. Annual review of neuroscience, 40, 479-498.

D'Isanto, T., D'Elia, F., Raiola, G., & Altavilla, G. (2019). Assessment of sport performance: Theoretical aspects and practical indications. Sport Mont, 17(1), 79-82.

Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual review of psychology, 64, 135-168.

Gibson, J. J. (2014). The ecological approach to visual perception: classic edition. Psychology Press.

Graser, J. V., Bastiaenen, C. H., & van Hedel, H. J. (2019). The role of the practice order: A systematic review about contextual interference in children. PloS one, 14(1), e0209979.

Haken, H., Kelso, J. S., & Bunz, H. (1985). A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements. Biological cybernetics, 51(5), 347-356.

Hassler, R. (1978). Striatal control of locomotion, intentional actions and of integrating and perceptive activity. Journal of the neurological sciences, 36(2), 187-224.

Hastie, P., & Siedentop, D. (1999). An ecological perspective on physical education. European Physical Education Review, 5(1), 9-30.

Heft, H. (1989). Affordances and the body: An intentional analysis of Gibson's ecological approach to visual perception. Journal for the theory of social behaviour, 19(1), 1-30.

Keele, S. W. (1968). Movement control in skilled motor performance. Psychological bulletin, 70(6p1), 387.

Kelso, J. S. (1994). The informational character of self-organized coordination dynamics. Human Movement Science, 13(3-4), 393-413.

Kerr, R., & Booth, B. (1978). Specific and varied practice of motor skill. Perceptual and motor skills, 46(2), 395-401.

Komar, J., Potdevin, F., Chollet, D., & Seifert, L. (2019). Between exploitation and exploration of motor behaviours: Unpacking the constraints-led approach to foster nonlinear learning in physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 24(2), 133-145.

Lee, T. D., Swanson, L. R., & Hall, A. L. (1991). What is repeated in a repetition? Effects of practice conditions on motor skill acquisition. Physical therapy, 71(2), 150-156.

Magill, R. A., & Hall, K. G. (1990). A review of the contextual interference effect in motor skill acquisition. Human movement science, 9(3-5), 241-289.

Merbah, S., & Meulemans, T. (2011). Learning a motor skill: Effects of blocked versus random practice: A review. Psychologica Belgica, 51(1), 15-48.

Newell, K. M., Van Emmerik, R. E. A., & McDonald, P. V. (1989). Biomechanical constraints and action theory. Human Movement Science, 8(4), 403-409.

Raiola, G. (2014). Motor control and learning skills according to cognitive and ecological dynamic approach in a vision on behaviorism, cognitive, Gestalt and phenomenology theories. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(15), 504-504.

Renshaw, I., Chow, J. Y., Davids, K., & Hammond, J. (2010). A constraints-led perspective to understanding skill acquisition and game play: A basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis?. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 15(2), 117-137.

Renshaw, I., Araújo, D., Button, C., Chow, J. Y., Davids, K., & Moy, B. (2016). Why the constraints-led approach is not teaching games for understanding: A clarification. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 21(5), 459-480.

Renshaw, I., & Chow, J. Y. (2019). A constraint-led approach to sport and physical education pedagogy. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 24(2), 103-116.

Schmidt, R. A., & Wrisberg, C. A. (2008). Motor learning and performance: A situation-based learning approach. Human Kinetics.

Schmidt, R. A., Lee, T. D., Winstein, C., Wulf, G., & Zelaznik, H. N. (2018). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis. Human Kinetics.

Swinnen, S. P., Schmidt, R. A., Nicholson, D. E., & Shapiro, D. C. (1990). Information feedback for skill acquisition: Instantaneous knowledge of results degrades learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 16(4), 706.

Tomporowski, P. D., McCullick, B., Pendleton, D. M., & Pesce, C. (2015). Exercise and children's cognition: The role of exercise characteristics and a place for metacognition. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(1), 47-55.

Warren, W. H. (2006). The dynamics of perception and action. Psychological review, 113(2), 358.

Wolpert, D. M., & Kawato, M. (1998). Multiple paired forward and inverse models for motor control. Neural networks, 11(7-8), 1317-1329.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Raiola, G., & Di Domenico, F. (2021). Approaches to motor learning: Cognitive approach versus ecological dinamyc one. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 16(3proc), S1491-S1505.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 > >>