Identifying control structure of multi-joint coordination in dart throwing: the effect of distance constraint



motor control, degree of freedom, motor redundancy, uncontrolled manifold, skill


Background: This study used the uncontrolled manifold (UCM) approach to study joint coordination underlying the control of task-related variables important for success at dart throwing skill. Success at a task can be achieved, in principle, by always adopting a particular joint combination. In contrast, we adopt a more selective control strategy: variations of the joint configuration that leave the values of essential task variables unchanged are predicted to be less controlled (i.e., stabilized to a lesser degree) than joint configuration changes that shift the values of the task variables. Objectives: How this abundance of motor solutions is managed by the nervous system and whether and how the throwing in different distances affects the solution to joint coordination was investigated in this study. Methods: Our experimental task involved dart throwing to a target under three conditions (standard, short and long distance) that it performed by fifteen dart professional and semiprofessional athletes. The four joint angles of the arm were obtained from the recorded positions of markers on the limb segments. The variability of joint configurations was decomposed into components lying parallel to those sets and components lying in their complement with respect to control of the path of the arm’s center of mass and spatial position of the hand. Results: When performing the task in all three different conditions, fluctuations of joint configuration that affected arm’s center of mass and spatial position variables were much reduced compared with fluctuations that did not affect these variables. The UCM principle applied to arm’s center of mass and spatial position thus captures the structure of the motor control system across different parts of joint configuration space as the movement evolves in time. Moreover, constraints representing an invariant arm’s center of mass or the spatial position structured joint configuration variability in the early and mid-portion of the movement trajectory, but not at the time of throwing. This specific control strategy indicate a target can be hit successfully also by controlling irrelevant directions in joint space equally to relevant ones. Conclusion: The results suggests a specific control strategy in which changes of joint configuration that are irrelevant to success at the task are selectively released from control. As a result, the method can be successfully used to determine the structure of coordination in joint space that underlies the control of the essential variables for a given task.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

S.H. HosseiniZarch, Kharazmi University; Tehran, Iran

S. Arsham, Kharazmi University;; Tehran, Iran

S.F. Tabatabaei Ghomshe, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences; Tehran, Iran

M.H. Honarvar, Yazd University; Yazd, Iran


1. Bernshtein NA. The Co-Ordination and Regulation of Movements. Oxford: Pergamon Press; 1967.

2. Steenbergen B, Marteniuk RG, Kalbfleisch LE. Achieving Coordination in Prehension: Joint Freezing and Postural Contributions. J Mot Behav. 1995;27(4):333- 48.

3. Gelfand IM, Latash ML. On the problem of adequate language in motor control. Motor Control. 1998;2(4):306- 13.

4. Scholz JP, Schoner G. The uncontrolled manifold concept: identifying control variables for a functional task. Exp Brain Res. 1999;126(3):289- 306.

5. Scholz JP, Schoner G, Latash ML. Identifying the control structure of multijoint coordination during pistol shooting. Exp Brain Res. 2000;135(3):382- 404.

6. Tseng Y, Scholz JP, Schoner G. Goal-equivalent joint coordination in pointing: affect of vision and arm dominance. Motor Control. 2002;6(2):183- 207.

7. Freitas SM, Scholz JP, Latash ML. Analyses of joint variance related to voluntary whole-body movements performed in standing. J Neurosci Methods. 2010;188(1):89- 96.

8. Latash ML. The bliss (not the problem) of motor abundance (not redundancy). Exp Brain Res. 2012;217(1):1- 5.

9. Togo S, Kagawa T, Uno Y. Uncontrolled Manifold Reference Feedback Control of Multi-Joint Robot Arms. Front Comput Neurosci. 2016;10: 69.

10. Zhou T, Solnik S, Wu YH, Latash ML. Unintentional movements produced by back-coupling between the actual and referent body configurations: violations of equifinality in multi-joint positional tasks. Exp Brain Res. 2014;232(12):3847- 59.

11. Gera G, Freitas S, Latash M, Monahan K, Schoner G, Scholz J. Motor abundance contributes to resolving multiple kinematic task constraints. Motor Control. 2010;14(1):83- 115.

12. Cruse H, Bruwer M, Dean J. Control of Three- and Four-Joint Arm Movement: Strategies for a Manipulator With Redundant Degrees of Freedom. J Mot Behav. 1993;25(3):131- 9.

13. Schwartz AB, Moran DW. Arm trajectory and representation of movement processing in motor cortical activity. Eur J Neurosci. 2000;12(6):1851- 6.

14. d'Avella A, Fernandez L, Portone A, Lacquaniti F. Modulation of phasic and tonic muscle synergies with reaching direction and speed. J Neurophysiol. 2008;100(3):1433- 54.

15. Desmurget M, Grea H, Prablanc C. Final posture of the upper limb depends on the initial position of the hand during prehension movements. Exp Brain Res. 1998;119(4):511- 6.

16. Schöner G. Recent developments and problems in human movement science and their conceptual implications. Ecol Psychol. 1995;7:291– 314.

17. Reisman DS, Scholz JP, Schoner G. Coordination underlying the control of whole body momentum during sit-to-stand. Gait Posture. 2002;15(1):45- 55.

18. Domkin D, Laczko J, Djupsjobacka M, Jaric S, Latash ML. Joint angle variability in 3D bimanual pointing: uncontrolled manifold analysis. Exp Brain Res. 2005;163(1):44- 57.

19. Martin V, Scholz JP, Schoner G. Redundancy, self-motion, and motor control. Neural Comput. 2009;21(5):1371- 414.

20. Alessandro C, Carbajal JP, d'Avella A. A computational analysis of motor synergies by dynamic response decomposition. Front Comput Neurosci. 2013;7: 191.

21. Scholz JP, Schoner G. Use of the uncontrolled manifold (UCM) approach to understand motor variability, motor equivalence, and self-motion. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;826:91- 100.

22. Yen JT, Auyang AG, Chang YH. Joint-level kinetic redundancy is exploited to control limb-level forces during human hopping. Exp Brain Res. 2009;196(3):439- 51.

23. Scholz JP, Dwight-Higgin T, Lynch JE, Tseng YW, Martin V, Schoner G. Motor equivalence and self-motion induced by different movement speeds. Exp Brain Res. 2011;209(3):319- 32.

24. Dimitriou M, Franklin DW, Wolpert DM. Task-dependent coordination of rapid bimanual motor re-sponses. J Neurophysiol. 2012;107(3):890- 901.

25. Newell KM, Vaillancourt DE. Dimensional change in motor learning. Hum Mov Sci. 2001;20(4-5):695- 715.

26. Robins MT, Wheat J, Irwin G, Bartlett R. The effect of shooting distance on movement variability in basketball. Hum Mov Stud, 2006;50:217-238.

27. Miller SA. Variability in basketball shooting: practical implications. In: Hong Y, editor. International Research in Sports Biomechanics, London: Routledge; 2008. P.27–34.

28. Glazier PS, Davids K. On analysing and interpreting variability in motor output. J Sci Med Sport. 2009;12(4):e2-3.

29. Higuchi T, Imanaka K, Hatayama T. Freezing degrees of freedom under stress: kinematic evidence of constrained movement strategies. Hum Mov Sci. 2002;21(5-6):831- 46.

30. Clark JE. On becoming skillful: patterns and constraints. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1995;66(3):173- 83.

31. Smeets JB, Frens MA, Brenner E. Throwing darts: timing is not the limiting factor. Exp Brain Res. 2002;144(2):268- 74.

32. Yamaguchi H, Kondo T. Throwing darts training support system based on analysis of human motor skill. In: Lee S, Cho H, Yoon K, Lee J, editors. The Intelligent Autonomous Systems 12. Springer: 2013. P.469– 478.

33. Soderkvist I, Wedin PA. Determining the movements of the skeleton using well-configured markers. J Biomech. 1993;26(12):1473- 7.

34. Suzuki M, Yamazaki Y, Mizuno N, Matsunami K. Trajectory formation of the center-of-mass of the arm during reaching movements. Neuroscience. 1997;76(2):597- 610.

35. Scholz JP, Reisman D, Schoner G. Effects of varying task constraints on solutions to joint coordination in a sit-to-stand task. Exp Brain Res. 2001;141(4):485- 500.

36. Soechting JF, Flanders M. Errors in pointing are due to approximations in sensorimotor transformations. J Neurophysiol. 1989;62(2):595- 608.

37. Nakagawa J, An Q, Ishikawa Y, Oka H, Takakusaki K, Yamakawa H, et al. Analysis of Human Motor Skill in Dart Throwing Motion at Different Distance. JCMSI. 2015;8(1):79– 85.

38. d'Avella A, Lacquaniti F. Control of reaching movements by muscle synergy combinations. Front Comput Neurosci. 2013;7: 42.




How to Cite

HosseiniZarch S, Arsham S, Tabatabaei Ghomshe S, Honarvar M. Identifying control structure of multi-joint coordination in dart throwing: the effect of distance constraint. Pedagogics, psychology, medical-biological problems of physical training and sports. 2019;23(6):267-81.

Abstract views: 526 / PDF downloads: 383