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Jed A. Diekfuss and Louisa D. Raisbeck

The primary purpose of this study was to describe the focus of attention NCAA Division 1 golfers use during practice and competition. A secondary purpose was to determine who was most influential in the focus of attention strategies adopted by NCAA Division 1 golfers. We collected observational data by attending practice sessions, conducting semistructured interviews, and administering guided focus groups. Results revealed two major themes pertaining to the focus of attention adopted by our sample of NCAA Division 1 golfers: situational focus and reactivity focus. Situational focus refers to the focus used within a specific context, and reactivity focus refers to the focus golfers adopt because of a psychological state. Further, our results revealed the importance of esteemed individuals’ instruction on the development of attentional focus strategies. Parents, coaches, and popular media were highly influential in our sample of NCAA Division 1 golfers’ selection of attentional focus strategies.

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Rob Gray

Although it is commonly believed that focusing too much attention on the injured body area impairs recovery in sports, this has not been directly assessed. The present study investigated attentional focus following sports injury. Experienced baseball position players recovering from knee surgery (Expt 1) and baseball pitchers recovering from elbow surgery (Expt 2) performed simulated batting and pitching respectively. They also performed three different secondary tasks: leg angle judgments, arm angle judgments, and judgments about the ball leaving their bat/hand. Injured athletes were compared with expert and novice control groups. Performance on the secondary tasks indicated that the injured batters had an internal focus of attention localized on the area of the injury resulting in significantly poorer batting performance as compared with the expert controls. Injured pitchers had a diffuse, internal attentional focus similar to that of novices resulting in poorer pitching performance as compared with the expert controls.

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Rafael A.B. Tedesqui and Terry Orlick

The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the attentional focus experienced by elite soccer players in different soccer positions and performance tasks of both closed and open skills. No previous studies have explored elite soccer players’ attentional skills from a naturalistic and qualitative perspective in such detail. Data collection consisted of individual semistructured interviews with eight highly elite Brazilian soccer players from five main soccer positions, namely goalkeeper, defender, wing, midfielder, and forward. Important themes were positive thinking, performing on autopilot, and relying on peripheral vision. For example, thematic analysis indicated that in tasks where there may be an advantage in disguising one’s intentions (e.g., penalty kick), relying on peripheral vision was essential. Early mistakes were among the main sources of distractions; thus, players reported beginning with easy plays as a strategy to prevent distractions. Implications for applied sport psychology were drawn and future studies recommended.

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Gal Ziv and Ronnie Lidor

During the past two decades, research has shown that an external focus (EF) of attention is superior to an internal focus (IF) of attention when performing a variety of motor skills. However, most of the studies on the use of EF and IF instructions for motor skill acquisition were conducted on young and healthy adults. The purpose of the current article was fourfold: (a) to review the current research on attentional focus in clinical populations and in older age, (b) to provide evidence-based knowledge about attentional focus instructions and their possible advantages in clinical settings, (c) to discuss methodological concerns associated with the reviewed studies, and (d) to propose practical implications for those who work with clinical populations and older individuals. We found that in 14 out of the 18 reviewed studies, EF instructions led to results that were superior to those of IF instructions. For example, in stroke patients, EF instructions can lead to faster, smoother, and more forceful reaching movements compared with IF instructions. However, a number of methodological concerns should be taken into account, among them the lack of a control group and the absence of studies using electromyography.

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Ying Hwa Kee, Nikos N.L.D. Chatzisarantis, Pui Wah Kong, Jia Yi Chow and Lung Hung Chen

We examined whether the momentary induction of state mindfulness benefited subsequent balance performance, taking into consideration the effects of dispositional mindfulness. We also tested whether our mindfulness induction, grounded in sustaining moment-to-moment attention, influenced the attentional focus strategies that were adopted by the participants during the balancing task. Balance performance was ascertained based on approximate entropy (ApEn) of the center of pressure (COP) data. The study involved 32 males (age: M = 22.8, SD = 1.94) who were randomly assigned to the mindfulness or control group. Using difference in pretest to posttest performance based on the medio-lateral movements as the dependent variable, the test for interaction showed that the mindfulness induction was more effective for participants with higher dispositional mindfulness. Participants who underwent mindfulness induction also reported greater use of external focus strategies than those in the control group. Results suggest that momentary mindful attention could benefit balance performance and affect the use of attentional focus strategies during movement control.

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Laura J. Petranek, Nicole D. Bolter and Ken Bell

The interactions that physical education teachers have with students (e.g., verbal instructions and feedback about movements) are critical to learning a motor skill ( Rink, 2013 ). Researchers in motor learning have been examining how different types of attentional focus instructions and feedback

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Masahiro Yamada and Louisa D. Raisbeck

studies investigating neuromuscular coordination with electromyography (EMG), showing that an internal focus results in inefficient EMG activity with poorer performance relative to an external focus. 9 , 12 , 21 , 22 Although research in attentional focus has investigated how we can guide individuals

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Theo Ouvrard, Alain Groslambert and Frederic Grappe

demonstrated that cognitions and attentional focus are core elements of exercise intensity regulation during ITT. They demonstrated that an excessive part of thoughts related to bodily sensations (called internal sensory monitoring) increases RPE and consequently decreases performance during endurance events

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Rob Gray and Jonathan Allsop

How is performance under pressure influenced by the history of events that precede it, and how does the pressure outcome influence the series of events that follow? A baseball batting simulation was used with college players to investigate these questions. In Experiment 1, the difficulty of the simulation was first adaptively adjusted to equate performance level. Batters next completed 20 at-bats used to classify them into one of three performance groups (normal, cold streak, or hot streak) followed by a one at-bat pressure condition. Finally, performance was evaluated over a period of 20 postpressure at-bats. In Experiment 2, a series of secondary tasks were added to assess attentional focus. In both experiments, whether batters succeeded or failed under pressure was significantly related to their performance history immediately before the pressure event, with the normal group having the poorest pressure performance. Performance postpressure was significantly related to both the pressure outcome and prepressure performance. These performance effects were related to changes in the batter’s attentional focus as shown by changes in secondary task accuracy.

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André Klostermann, Ralf Kredel and Ernst-Joachim Hossner

To date, despite a large body of evidence in favor of the advantage of an effect-related focus of attention compared with a movement-related focus of attention in motor control and learning, the role of vision in this context remains unclear. Therefore, in a golf-putting study, the relation between attentional focus and gaze behavior (in particular, quiet eye, or QE) was investigated. First, the advantage of an effect-related focus, as well as of a long QE duration, could be replicated. Furthermore, in the online-demanding task of golf putting, high performance was associated with later QE offsets. Most decisively, an interaction between attentional focus and gaze behavior was revealed in such a way that the efficiency of the QE selectively manifested under movement-related focus instructions. As these findings suggest neither additive effects nor a causal chain, an alternative hypothesis is introduced explaining positive QE effects by the inhibition of not-to-be parameterized movement variants.