One of the variables that influence motor learning is the learner’s previous experience, which may provide perceptual and motor elements to be transferred to a novel motor skill. For swimming skills, several motor experiences may prove effective. Purpose. The aim was to analyse the influence of previous experience in playing in water, swimming lessons, and music or dance lessons on learning the breaststroke kick. Methods. The study involved 39 Physical Education students possessing basic swimming skills, but not the breaststroke, who performed 400 acquisition trials followed by 50 retention and 50 transfer trials, during which stroke index as well as rhythmic and spatial configuration indices were mapped, and answered a yes/no questionnaire regarding previous experience. Data were analysed by ANOVA (p = 0.05) and the effect size (Cohen’s d ≥0.8 indicating large effect size). Results. The whole sample improved their stroke index and spatial configuration index, but not their rhythmic configuration index. Although differences between groups were not significant, two types of experience showed large practical effects on learning: childhood water playing experience only showed major practically relevant positive effects, and no experience in any of the three fields hampered the learning process. Conclusions. The results point towards diverse impact of previous experience regarding rhythmic activities, swimming lessons, and especially with playing in water during childhood, on learning the breaststroke kick.
Key words: breaststroke kick; motor learning; previous experience