The Effects of Attentional Focus Instructions Specific to Body Movements on Movement Quality and Performance

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Contexts: Directing an individual’s attention to the effect of the movements (external focus) has been shown to improve performance than directing attention to body movements (internal focus). However, the effect of attentional focus instructions specific to movement quality has not been investigated thoroughly. Objective: To compare the effects of internal and external focus instructions specific to body movements. Design: Mixed design, 2 (sex) × 2 (instructions). Settings: Laboratory setting. Participants: A total of 40 participants (males, n = 20; mean [SD]; age = 22.0 [2.19] y; height = 179.33 [5.90] cm; mass = 77.7 [13.04] kg; females, n = 20; age = 22.0 [3.87] y; height = 164.84 [5.80] cm; mass = 71.48 [20.66] kg) were recruited. Intervention: Participants completed 2 consecutive jumps (ie, a forward jump from a height and then a maximal vertical jump) with internal focus and external focus instructions. External focus was elicited by placing pieces of tape on the participants’ legs. Main Outcome measures: Landing quality was measured by the Landing Error Scoring System to assess movement quality, and the vertical jump height was measured by Vertec. Results: The performance results showed that the external focus condition resulted in superior vertical jump height compared with the internal focus condition (P < .05). Although landing quality did not show significant differences between 2 conditions, the effect size (η2 = .09) indicated that landing quality was better when participants adopted an external, rather than an internal focus of attention (P = .07). Conclusions: The body-oriented instructions can be provided externally by adding artificial external cues and directing attention to them. Importantly, the findings were evident in a qualitative assessment that can be adopted by practitioners. The results suggest that practitioners should adopt an external focus cue for performance and also consider using an external focus for movement quality.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, School of Health and Human Science, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA.

Yamada (m_yamad2@uncg.edu) is corresponding author.
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