Directing Attention Externally and Self-Controlled Practice Have Similar Effects on Motor Skill Performance

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 Shahid Beheshti University
  • 2 Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz
  • 3 The University of Tennessee Knoxville
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There were two aims to the present study. First, we sought to investigate how a form of self-controlled practice compared to a well-established strategy of explicitly directing a mover’s attention externally when performing the standing long jump. Those two forms of practice were also compared to conditions in which participants were instructed to focus their attention internally or neutrally (i.e., control condition). Second, we investigated if the skill level of the participants was a factor in the comparison of these two forms of training (i.e., directing attention externally and self-controlled practice). In the External condition, volunteers were told to focus on jumping toward a cone that was placed in front of them at a distance of 5-m. In the Internal condition, participants were told to focus on the extension of their knees. In the Self-control condition, volunteers were allowed to choose a distant target to focus their attention on while executing the jump. Participants also completed jumps in a Control condition in which no explicit instructions were provided. Results demonstrated that both skilled and low-skilled participants jumped significantly farther in the External and Self-control conditions compared to jumps completed in the Control and Internal conditions. The findings of this study demonstrate that providing instructions that direct attention externally, or allowing the participant to choose where to direct their attention, resulted in similar enhancements in jumping performance in both low- and high-skilled jumpers.

Asadi, Farsi, and Abdoli are with the Department of Motor Behavior, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran. Saemi is with Department of Sport Psychology, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran. Porter is with the Motor Behavior Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies at The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN. USA

Porter (jporter@utk.edu) is corresponding author.
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