An Integrated Qualitative Analysis of Overarm Throwing

Article excerpt

By applying an integrated model of qualitative analysis, teachers can give students specific, helpful cues that will lead to improved overarm throwing performance.

Qualitative analysis of motor skills must be based on information from many of the subdisciplines of physical education (biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor development, motor learning, pedagogy, sport psychology, etc.). These sources of information influence all four of the major tasks of qualitative analysis: preparation, observation, evaluation/diagnosis, and remediation [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. First, professionals compile relevant information on the movement and on the performers to identify the critical features of the movement. Second, they systematically observe the movement to gather information on the status of the performance. The third task of qualitative analysis has two parts: the evaluation of the strengths and weakness of the performance, and the diagnosis of the most important correction. Fourth, the analyst provides one remedy or cue (feedback) based on the diagnosis that is likely to improve performance.

Qualitative analysis can then be defined as the systematic observation and introspective judgment of the quality of human movement for the purpose of providing the most appropriate remediation to improve performance. This definition and the circular model of qualitative analysis integrating the many subdisciplines of physical education (Knudson & Morrison, in press) are based on several models of qualitative analysis presented in the literature (Arend & Higgins, 1976; Hay & Reid, 1988; Hoffman, 1983; McPherson, 1990; Pinheiro, 1994). The purpose of this article is to show how an approach to qualitative analysis integrating many subdisciplines of physical education can be used to improve qualitative analysis of human movement.

The overarm throw is a critical fundamental movement pattern for many sports skills. The ability to qualitatively analyze the overarm throw is therefore a critical teaching and coaching skill. The following three examples will illustrate how an integrated qualitative analysis works.

Critical Features of the Overarm Throw

In preparing for a qualitative analysis of the overarm throw, professionals need to identify the critical features of the movement. Critical features are key features of a movement that are necessary for optimal performance. Critical features are identified based on the effectiveness in achieving the goal of the movement, the efficiency or economy of effort, and the prevention of injury to the performer. Research, professional literature, and experience all contribute to our understanding of the critical features of a movement.

Based on a wealth of research on the overarm throw, six critical features should be the focus of observation of the overarm throw. Table 1 pairs these critical features with examples of appropriate teaching cues. Teaching cues must be tailored to the cognitive level and skill level of each performer. Many scholars have proposed criteria for the qualitative analysis of overarm throwing (Jones-Morton, 1990; Kelly, Reuschein, & Haubenstricker, 1989; Morrison & Reeve, 1989; Roberton & Halverson, 1984), but most models have not presented a rationale for making diagnostic decisions in qualitative analysis. The six critical features of powerful overarm throwing are italicized in this section.

Overarm throwing should be evaluated based on the goal of the throw. The ball trajectory is largely determined by physical properties of the ball, ball speed, spin, and angle of release. For example, the optimal angles of projection for balls thrown for horizontal distance in most sport situations are between 35 and 42 degrees above the horizontal (Dowell, 1978). Many young baseball players throw the ball with a higher trajectory, decreasing the length of the throw and increasing the time spent covering the horizontal distance. …