Clinical Pilates in Practice: Choice & Skill Learning (January 2021)


This small study observed the motor learning effects of allowing small choices by individuals.


An, Jongseong, Rebecca Lewthwaite, Seungmin Lee, and Gabriele Wulf. "Choice of practice-task order enhances golf skill learning." Psychology of Sport and Exercise 50 (2020), 101737. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101737.



  • Autonomy is a key motivational factor in the OPTIMAL theory of motor learning.1
    • Enhances expectancies for performance.
    • Increases task focus.
    • Enhanced processing of task errors.
    • Greater neuro-cognitive engagement.
  • Lack of autonomy can be stressful and therefore negatively impact performance.
    • Stress also takes focus away from task performance.
  • In the "choice group", participants selected the order of their practice, which were seemingly small choices.
  • Having a choice enhanced learning, compared to the group that did not choose the order of their practice.
  • Positive affect and confidence were also higher in the choice group.
  • Confidence and positive affect were higher in the choice group as well.

 The autonomy-supportive condition, in which learners were able to choose the order of methods, enhanced learning of the task.

  • Relatively small choices can facilitate performance and learning.



  •  Small choices can affect learning and retention, so when designing a rehabilitation program, ask clients which order they want to perform tasks.
  • Give choices in studio, and for home exercise programs.
  • Don't be constrained by choreography and flow.
  • Encourage communication and a sense of autonomy with regards to program design.



1. Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2016). Optimizing Performance through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning: The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 1382-1414.


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