Examination of Visual Information as a Mediator of External Focus Benefits

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Attunement to visual information has been suggested to mediate the performance advantage associated with adopting an external focus of attention (e.g., Al-Abood, Bennett, Moreno Hernandez, Ashford, & Davids, 2002; Magill, 1998). We tested this hypothesis by examining the extent to which online visual information underpins the external focus advantage. The study examined skilled golfers on a putting task under one of three attentional focus conditions: control (no instructions), irrelevant (tone counting), and external (movement effect focus), with either full or occluded vision. In addition to task performance, the effect of attentional focus and vision on between-trial movement variability was examined. We found a significant advantage for an external focus of attention in the absence of vision. The results of the movement variability analysis further indicated that external focus was not mediated by the online use of vision. We discuss these findings in the context of traditional cognitive perspectives to external focus effects.

William M. Land is with the Neurocognition and Action Research Group, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Gershon Tenenbaum is with the College of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Paul Ward is with the Centre for Sports Science & Human Performance, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, UK. Christian Marquardt is with Science & Motion GmbH, Munich, Germany.