According to the constrained action hypothesis, an external focus of attention is beneficial for motor learning due to improvements in movement automization. In contrast, an internal focus of attention interferes with automaticity and decreases the effects of motor learning. This study was designed to test the automaticity assumption of the focus of attention effect within a highly skilled population. We examined the effects of attentional focus on kinematics in rope jumping and visual control. Participants practiced the rope-jumping task over five days of acquisition, which was followed by a retention and transfer test. The findings provided evidence that the learning of the task was improved and automaticity was increased by the external focus compared with the internal focus and no attentional (i.e., control condition) conditions. In addition, these findings indicate that visual attention as a function of attentional focus has a stronger relationship with practice performance rather than with motor learning effects.
Porter is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. Makaruk and Starzak are with the Dept. of Physical Education, Josef Pilsudski University of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland.