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.
Jared Porter, Hubert Makaruk, and Marcin Starzak
Hubert Makaruk, Jared M. Porter, Barbara Długołęcka, Urszula Parnicka, and Beata Makaruk
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of different foci of attention on parameters related to maximum muscular power in older women. Using a counterbalanced within-participant design, 23 physically active young-old women (age 59-69) completed a maximum effort cycle ergometer test following three types of verbal instructions. The external instruction (EXF) was designed to focus attention on moving the pedals as fast as possible, internal instruction (INF) directed attention toward moving the legs as fast as possible, and a control condition (CON) was created in which participants were instructed to perform the task to the best of their abilities. Results indicated that the EXF and CON conditions resulted in greater muscular power compared with the INF condition. Results also indicated that directing attention internally hindered muscular power performance in older women, which is consistent with the predictions of the constrained action hypothesis.