Analogy learning: A means to implicit motor learning

CM Liao, Richard Masters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

199 Citations (Scopus)


Two experiments were conducted to examine the hypothesis that learning by analogy will invoke characteristics of an implicit mode of motor learning. In the first experiment, table tennis novices learned to hit forehand topspin implicitly, explicitly or by analogy. The results showed that the analogy and implicit learning groups accumulated equivalently fewer explicit rules than the explicit learning group during the learning phase. When a concurrent secondary task was added, the explicit learning group suffered from a significantly more serious performance impairment than the analogy and implicit learning groups; no significant differences were seen between the latter two groups. Self-perceived performance was correlated to actual performance in the explicit learning group but not in the analogy or the implicit learning groups. In the second experiment, the performance of an explicit learning group was found to be impaired by both a stress intervention and a thought suppression intervention, whereas the performance of an analogy learning group was not. These characteristics of analogy learning parallel those reported in the implicit learning literature, suggesting that analogy learning may be an effective method for teaching skills implicitly in sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-319
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2001


  • table tennis
  • motor learning
  • analogy learning
  • implicit learning


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