Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Through Digitized Video This is the version in the ts/cases/1999-07.asp mockup.

Link to previously reviewed version, the author's edits in response to reviews, the second-to-last copyedit, or the last copyedit

Technology has the potential to enhance the delivery and mastery of course content across academic disciplines. Many disciplines are logical candidates for the infusion of technology into instruction. Physical education, however, usually is not included among them.

I have developed a number of technology-enhanced methods to help physical education students learn new and improved motor skills. Research shows that students learn more by participating in activities than by watching them (Groccia, 1997). The activity might be an individual one (e.g., gymnastics tumbling) or a team one in which each individual's skills affect team play (e.g., dribbling and passing a basketball). Regardless, to effectively learn any skill, students must achieve perfect practice—hence the saying "Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect."  

When students merely see the techniques involved in executing a specific skill, they often incorrectly mimic these techniques and thus poorly execute them in practice. To help students avoid poor execution, I first explain and demonstrate the skill in question. Then I videotape (on a VHS tape) each student's effort to correctly mimic my demonstration. This tape is digitized to a computer. I assign students to groups of two or three; each group has an activity web page on the class homepage that displays the members' individual videos as well as a checklist describing the techniques that I have previously demonstrated. Students watch their individual videos and put a check beside those skills that they perform correctly; they also note which skills they need to improve by typing that information in a text box. In addition, each student has the opportunity to view other group members' videos in order to become familiar with the correct techniques of the motor activity.

For example, think of basketball as the lesson and the lay-up as the specific practice activity. I teach students motor cues to aid them in the proper execution of a left- and right-handed lay-up. Below is the right-handed lay-up checklist:

I give students several opportunities to practice lay-ups in an organized, teacher-directed class, and I provide immediate feedback in order to reinforce the motor cues. I then videotape each student, have the tapes digitized to a computer, instruct students to view their group's videos on the basketball activity page, and follow my established procedures for individual and group evaluations. I give them one week to watch the videos of everyone in their group and to give positive feedback when it is merited.

After everyone has watched the videos, I have each student summarize his/her performance of one or more activity (e.g., lay-up, dribbling, passing, shooting, etc.) in a meeting with me. The individual conference allows me to give specific feedback and to encourage student-teacher interaction. During these brief exchanges, many students display a sense of enthusiasm about this instructional method and for the work that I put into it.

Finally, I give the class more opportunities to practice lay-ups and ask everyone to keep in mind his/her corrective cues. Because they have concrete "evidence" of their own skills and a mental picture of how to perform a lay-up, almost all students eventually execute the desired outcome: a perfect lay-up. This gives them the confidence they need to to execute lay-ups in a game situation.

Currently, I use instruction enhanced by digitized video in my team sports college course, in which students learn the fundamentals of basketball, volleyball, and softball. I find that the videotape exercises help the students and me bond as team members intent on accomplishing a common goal. I frequently display student videos on an overhead projector to the entire class. Students report that they enjoy seeing themselves on the large video projector and identifying cues to correct their mistakes.

The instructional method that I use can be integrated into any physical education activity. I encourage other physical education teachers to use this technique as well as other forms of technology in our field. Technology is not limited strictly to academic subjects; it can enhance physical education just as well and effectively.


Groccia, J. E. (1997). Creating interactive learning environments. Columbia, MO: Program for Excellence in Teaching, University of Missouri-Columbia.