In Experiment 1, adult and child participants were instructed to imitate a video model performing a bowling action with or without a ball. Participants imitated the action with greater accuracy without a ball and in general adults were more accurate than children. In Experiment 2, adults and children were shown a video or point-light display of the bowling action. There was no difference in movement form between the adult point-light and video groups. In contrast, children were poorer at reproducing the action when viewing point-light compared with video sequences (P < 0.05). The novel point-light display hindered the children's ability to provide conceptual mediation between the presented information and action requirements. In Experiment 3, a child point-light group was provided with perceptual-cognitive training. The perceptual-cognitive training group demonstrated better movement reproduction than a group who viewed the point-light displays with no training (P < 0.05), although there were no differences between participants who received training and those who viewed a video. Children are able to perceive and use relative motion information from a display after some general training, and the effectiveness of demonstrations needs to be judged relative to the task context.