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A jump shot in basketball can be a flawless movement and still be of little value to the team if the ball misses the basket. A tennis forehand can be quick and powerful but to no avail if the ball sails out of bounds. We probably don’t even want to think about what results from mismatches between movement and the environment in gymnastics or platform diving! Ouch! We have long realized that we cannot fully appreciate how we control movement unless we understand how movement control incorporates the environment.

Many used slow-motion films to document the movements they observed. Issues of objectivity and reliability were carefully assessed before data reduction began. The films and now videos of their data are also an accessible legacy that can be reviewed by subsequent investigators for different interpretations. The weakness of their methodology, however, was their failure to document with equal care the environment surrounding their participants; they rarely attempted to replicate in the laboratory the environmental situations potentially related to the movement transformations they observed in natural settings (Roberton, 1989a).

That is, age does not determine how a person’s movement looks. There are probabilities associated with several ways that the movement may look at any given age. Thus, the graph shows the variability that occurs across a group of people of the same age. We should also stress that these types of graphs depict behavior in a consistent environment. All participants are assessed the same way during each testing session. While conceptually an intratask developmental sequence is more characteristic of a population than of an individual, some sequences, such as throwing for force, are quite robust for the individual.

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