Considering a Holistic Focus of Attention as an Alternative to an External Focus

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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Empirical findings consistently suggest that an external focus of attention leads to superior performance when compared to an internal focus by encouraging more automatic processing. However, for certain skills (e.g., gymnastics routines) it can be challenging to identify a meaningful external focus cue. A related line of research suggests that focusing on the general feeling of a movement (i.e., holistic focus) may also be useful in avoiding conscious control of movements. The purpose of this study was to determine how an internal focus (INT), external focus (EXT), and holistic focus (HOL) impact the performance of a standing long jump. Participants (N = 27) completed two baseline jumps followed by two jumps in each focus condition. Jump distance was analyzed in a 6 (Order) × 4 (Focus) mixed ANOVA. Results indicated a significant main effect of focus (p < .001), with EXT and HOL resulting in farther jumps than INT and baseline conditions (p-values < .05). EXT and HOL did not differ significantly from each other, and INT did not differ significantly from baseline. The findings suggest that a holistic focus can be another effective means of avoiding conscious control of movement when an external focus is not practical or desired.

Becker and Georges are with the School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX. Aiken is with the Department of Kinesiology and Dance, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM.

Address author correspondence to Kevin A. Becker at Kbecker1@twu.edu.
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