Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Through Digitized Video  (Link to previously reviewed version, the author's edits in response to reviews, 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 a student merely sees the techniques involved in executing a specific skill, he/she often incorrectly mimics these techniques and thus poorly executes 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 and instruct them to find the class homepage on the World Wide Web. Within that page, each group has an activity web page that displays the members' individual videos as well as a checklist describing the techniques that I previously have 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.

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, and instruct students to 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 while earning the student's full attention, and it helps the students and I bond as team members intent on accomplishing a common goal. During these brief exchanges, students display a sense of enthusiasm for the work that I put into the activity.

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 this class, students learn the fundamentals of basketball, volleyball, and softball. I videotape my students performing lay-ups and shooting jump-shots in basketball; serving, setting, and bumping in volleyball; and hitting in softball. 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 have described process can be integrated into any physical education activity. I encourage other physical education teachers to use this method as well as other forms of technology in our discipline. Technology is not limited strictly to academic subjects; it can enhance physical disciplines just as well and effectively.


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