You are on page 1of 7

A Lesson Plan for Chest-to-Deck Push-ups

Molly Murphy

EXSC 351

February 26, 2016

1. The learner in this lesson plan is a highly motivated 17 year old, Caucasian female who

wants to pass the push-up portion of the Physical Readiness Test for the United States Navy in

order to receive a scholarship to go to college. This goal consists of completing 39 chest-to-

deck push-ups in a timed, two minute test. A chest-to-deck push-up is achieved when the

learners elbows make a 90 degree angle when in the down position while the back and legs

remain aligned at all times. The learner is an active, healthy and developed female that has

performed a push up before but not a chest-to-deck push-up in a timed environment. The

learner is classified as an associative stage learner because she has progressed through the

cognitive stage of understanding the basic movements and techniques of a push-up from her

prior experience (Fitts & Posner 1967). In the associative stage, she will focus on refining the

chest-to-deck push-up form while perfecting her technique to decrease variation in her push-

ups. Schmidt and Wrisberg (2008) define a discrete skill as having a clear beginning and end

while only lasting a short amount of time. Based on this definition, the chest-to-deck push-up is

classified as a discrete skill; beginning with the learner lowering her body until her elbows make

a 90 degree angle, and ending with the learner pushing herself back up to the leaning rest

position. Schmidt and Wrisbergs definition of a closed skill requires a predictable and stable

environment. This scientific definition classifies the chest-to-deck push up as a closed skill

because the environment in which a pushup is performed is unchanging. The learner will

therefore practice this skill in a closed environment to simulate the environment where she will

take her Physical Readiness Test.

2. A blocked practice schedule refers to learning and practicing one specific skill technique with

excessive repetition and then moving on to the next skill, and focuses on skill acquisition. In

contrast, a random schedule is defined by practicing multiple elements of a certain motor skill in

no specific order and teaches motor skill retention. The random practice schedule promotes the

phenomenon of contextual interference, which according to Magill and Hall (1990) occurs when

variations of a skill interfere with each other during practice and leads to superior retention

compared to block learning schedules. In 2010, Porter and Magill researched this phenomenon

in detail and found that combining the two practice schedules could possibly promote better

learning and further tested their ideas in an experiment. The purpose of this experiment was to

test their hypothesis that systematically increasing contextual interference could result in

increased skill learning (Porter & Magill 2010). Ninety-six female students participated in their

experiment and were asked to perform 81 trials of chest pass, an over head pass and a one-

hand side arm pass with a basketball toward a target. The participants were assigned to three

different practice schedules and given a demonstration of each pass. The blocked schedule

consisted of 81 trials with each pass practiced in block order. The random schedule consisted of

81 trials of passes in a random order and the increasing schedule consisted of 1-27 trials of

block practice, 28-54 of serial practice and 55-81 trials in a random order. Results of this

experiment concluded that systematically increasing the contextual interference of a skill

facilitates better skill learning compared to the just blocked or random practice. This experiment

is relevant to my learner because the participants are similar in age and gender. One strength

of this experiment is that both motor skills, passing a basketball and performing a push-up, are

similar discrete skills that use the arms, chest and abdomen. However, one limitation is that

passing a basketball occurs in an open environment compared to the closed environment of a

push-up. Based on the research of Porter and Magill (2000), I will implement an increasing

practice schedule that uses both blocked and random practice schedules. The learner will start

with a block practice of 15 standard push-ups, then progress into a serial practice of three push

up variants including: 5 incline push-ups, 5 decline push-ups and 5 wide grip push-ups. Each

practice will then end with 20 push-ups, consisting of each variant, in random order. According

to the research, the increasing contextual interference throughout each practice will assist the

learner in perfecting technique and facilitating retention of a push-up.

3. The macrostructure of a training practice can either be massed or distributed. A massed

practice is long in duration and allows for very little breaks in between each practice. Massed

practice is integral to intensive therapy in certain rehabilitation processes (Vearrier 2004) In

contrast; according to Baston (2006) distributed practice occurs when the amount of rest

between practices sessions is equal to or greater than the amount of time spent in practice.

Disturbed practices are commonly used because of the beneficial spacing effect on motor

learning retention and skill acquisition. The purpose of an experiment conducted by Dail and

Christina (2004) was to observe the effects of a distributed practice macrostructure on learning

and retention of a motor skill. The study gathered 90 male and female novice golfers ages 17-32

years and instructed them to putt a golf ball into a hole on a flat, artificial putting surface. The

subjects were randomized into massed and distributed practice groups. The massed group

performed 240 putts in one practice while the distributed group performed 60 putts per practice,

with practice on 4 consecutive days. A retention group of 15 subjects from each group was

instructed to return 1 day later, 7 days later, and 28 days later for retention testing. After each

block of 10 putts, the participant was given verbal and visual feedback. The results of this

experiment concluded that a distributed practice macrostructure was followed with better skill

acquisition and retention compared to a massed practice of a discrete motor skill. This

experiment is relevant to my learner because the gender and age of the participants are similar

and they are also in the associative stage of learning. The golf putt executed in this experiment

was described as a discrete skill, making it relevant to the discrete motor skill of a push up that I

am teaching in my lesson plan. Based on the study of Dial and Christine (2004), I will be

implementing a distributed practice schedule consisting of a 30-minute practice once a day for

two weeks. Then after the initial two weeks, there will be a 30-minute practice every other day

for two weeks. According to the research, the distributed practice structure will assist my learner

in acquisition and retention of performing a push up.

4. Verbal instructions are a way to communicate the goal of the desired task with clear direction

and are administered before the motor skill occurs. Verbal instructions can cue the brain to pay

more attention to the task at hand and thus facilitate motor learning (Fok et al., 2011).

Demonstration is another form of instruction that incorporates a visual component to verbal

instructions. Using both verbal instructions and demonstration has had beneficial effects on

motor skill acquisition and retention (Hooyman, Wulf & Lewthwaite, 2011). The purpose of a

study conducted by Hooyman, Wulf and Lewthwaite (2011) was to examine the effects of using

video demonstration and autonomy-supportive instructions compared to controlling instructions

on the motor skill learning. Forty-eight college students, male and female, were enrolled in this

study and instructed to throw a tennis ball from a throwing area to a target that was hung 10 m

away, which simulated a cricket bowling action. The participants were randomized into 3 groups

distinguished by the type of instructions they were to receive before throwing. The first group

was administered autonomy-supportive language instructions, the second group; controlling-

language instructions, and the third group; neutral-language instructions. The participants

watched a 40 second demonstration video with the respective instructions before performing 60

trials of the cricket throw. The results of this experiment revealed enhanced accuracy and self-

efficacy in the participants who received autonomy-supportive instructions compared to

controlling or neutral instructions. This reveals the importance of giving learners autonomy when

instructing them how to perform a specific skill. The subjects had no prior experience in cricket

bowling when they participated in this study, differentiating them from my learner who has

previous background with push-ups. The difference in cognitive stages of my learner and the

study participants is a limitation of this study. The strength of this study was the use of a discrete

skill; both throwing a ball at a target and performing push-up are discrete skills that take place in

a closed environment. Based on the research of Hooyman, Wulf and Lewthwaite (2011), I will

implement both a demonstration and autonomy-supportive language instructions in my lesson

plan. I will have expert at performing push-ups demonstrate the 5 push-ups with correct form

while I administer the instructions prior to the performance of the learner. Instructions will

include autonomic language such as once you begin executing the push-ups, you may pace

yourself as you please for the entirety of the two minute test and when you perform your push-

up, you may want to keep your head and eyes pointed forward to ensure proper back

5. Augmented feedback (AFB) is any information about a learners performance that is made

aware to them after they have completed the task by the instructor. AFB can be defined in terms

of content of the information; knowledge of results (KR) and knowledge of performance (KP).

Knowledge of results is defined as the feedback directed toward the outcome of a movement

and is important in eliminating errors in performance (Hodges & Williams, 2012). Knowledge of

performance is detailed information about how the movement was performed, including

kinematic movement patterns.

6. Augmented feedback can also be defined by instructional nature such as descriptive AFB and

prescriptive AFB. Descriptive AFB describes to the learner the movement and prescriptive AFB

goes one step further to describe future improvements for correction of the movement (Chen,

2001). Prescriptive goals have a tendency to limit discovery leaning.

7. Mastery goals are associated with a learners innate desire to gain insight to the task and who

views the learning process as reward. Mastery goals applied to learning have been linked to

increased self-efficacy, higher achievement and better cognition (Patrick, Ryan & Pintrich,

1999). Performance goals refer to the learners want to beat out the competition and are based

on external rewards such as winning. Performance goals have been associated with negative

learning behaviors such as cheating (Anderman, Griesinger & Westerfield, 1998). Mastery goals

often increase long-term retention and acquisition of learning outcomes compared to

performance goals.


Anderman, E. M., Griesinger, T., & Westerfield, G. (1998). Motivation and cheating during early

adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1), 84-93.

Batson, G. (2007). Revisiting overuse injuries in dance in view of motor learning and somatic

models of distributed practice. Journal Of Dance Medicine & Science, 11(3), 70-75.

Chen, D. D. (2001). Trends in augmented feedback research and tips for the practitioner.

Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 71(1), 32-36.

Dail, T. K., & Christina, R. W. (2004) Distribution of Practice and Metacognition in Learning and

Long-Term Retention of a Discrete Motor Task. Research Quarterly for Exercise and

Sport, 75(2), 148-155.

Fitts, P., & Posner, M. (1967). Human performance. Belmont, California: Brooks/Cole.

Fok, P., Farrell, M., McMeeken, J., & Kuo, Y. (2011). The effects of verbal instructions on gait in

people with Parkinsons disease: a systematic review of randomized and non-

randomized trials. Clinical Rehabilitation, 25(5), 396-407.

Hodges, N. & Williams, M., A. (2012). Skill acquisition in sport: research, theory and practice.

New York, New York: Routledge.

Hooyman, A., Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2011). Impacts of autonomy-supportive versus

controlling instructional language on motor learning. Human Movement Science, 36,190-


Magill, R. A., & Hall, K. G. (1990). A review of the contextual interference effect in motor skill

acquisition. Human Movement Science, 9(3), 241-289.

Patrick, H., Ryan, A. M., & Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The differential impact of extrinsic and mastery

goal orientations on males and females self regulated learning. Learning and Individual

Differences, 11(2), 153-171.

Porter, J. M., Magill, R. A. (2010) Systematically increasing contextual interference is beneficial

for learning sport skills. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(12), 1277-1285.

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

learning approach. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.