Does Practice Make Perfect?
Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Social Science
This project determines if hands-on practice, mental practice, or no practice at all leads to better shooting of free-throws. Note: This project can be modified to accommodate almost any sport. For example, you could use it for batting practice, tennis swings, bowling strikes, etc.
- Did the group that practiced shooting free-throws increase the number of free-throws they were able to make at the end of the experiment? If so, by how much?
- Did the group that practiced mentally increase the number of free-throws they were able to make at the end of the experiment? If so, by how much?
- Did the control group that didn't practice at all increase the number of free-throws they were able to make at the end of the project? If so, by how much?
- Pen and/or pencil
- Lab notebook
- Nine volunteers
- Basketball hoop
- Begin by having all of your volunteers make ten free-throw attempts each. Record how many free-throws each person was able to make in your notebook.
- Now divide your volunteers into three groups. Ask your first group of three volunteers to practice shooting free-throws for ten minutes everyday for two weeks. Ask your second group of three volunteers to only mentally visualize themselves practicing free-throws for ten minutes everyday for two weeks. Ask your third group of three volunteers, your control group, not to do any practicing of any kind for the next two weeks.
- At the end of the three weeks, gather your volunteers together again. Ask each volunteer to make ten free-throw attempts. Record how many free-throws each volunteer was able to make.
- Analyze your data. Compare the number of free-throws made at the beginning to the number of free-throws made after two weeks. Did all of the groups improve? Did one or two groups improve more than the others? If so, why do you think that is? Were there any surprises?
Terms/Concepts: free-throws; mental practice; visual practice; control group
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.