AIM: This systematic review investigates the effectiveness of instructions and feedback with external focus applied with reduced frequency, self-controlled timing and/or in visual or auditory form, on the performance of functional gross motor tasks in children aged 2 to 18 with typical or atypical development.
METHODS: Four databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Embase) were systematically searched (last updated May 31st 2021). Inclusion criteria were: 1. children aged 2 to 18 years old; 2. Instructions/feedback with external focus applied with reduced frequency, self-controlled timing, and/or visual or auditory form as intervention, to learn functional gross motor tasks; 3. Instructions/feedback with external focus applied with continuous frequency, instructor-controlled timing, and/or verbal form as control; 4. performance measure as outcome; 5. (randomized) controlled studies. Article selection and risk of bias assessment (with the Cochrane risk of bias tools) was conducted by two reviewers independently. Due to heterogeneity in study characteristics and incompleteness of the reported data, a best-evidence synthesis was performed.
RESULTS: Thirteen studies of low methodological quality were included, investigating effectiveness of reduced frequencies (n = 8), self-controlled timing (n = 5) and visual form (n = 1) on motor performance of inexperienced typically (n = 348) and atypically (n = 195) developing children, for acquisition, retention and/or transfer. For accuracy, conflicting or no evidence was found for most comparisons, at most time points. However, there was moderate evidence that self-controlled feedback was most effective for retention, and limited evidence that visual analogy was most effective for retention and transfer. To improve quality of movement, there was limited evidence that continuous frequency was most effective for retention and transfer.
CONCLUSION: More methodologically sound studies are needed to draw conclusions about the preferred frequency, timing or form. However, we cautiously advise considering self-controlled feedback, visual instructions, and continuous frequency.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registration: Prospero CRD42021225723. https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42021225723.
- Child, Preschool