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Attentional Focus in NCAA Division 1 Golfers

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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Differences in Attentional Focus Associated With Recovery From Sports Injury: Does Injury Induce an Internal Focus?

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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Brazilian Elite Soccer Players: Exploring Attentional Focus in Performance Tasks and Soccer Positions

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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Attentional Focus and Motor Learning in Clinical Settings and in Older Age: A Review

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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Mindfulness, Movement Control, and Attentional Focus Strategies: Effects of Mindfulness on a Postural Balance Task

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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Attentional Focus and Individuals’ Perceptions: A Systematic Review

Masahiro Yamada, Lauren Q. Higgins, and Louisa D. Raisbeck

system ( McNevin et al., 2003 ). Although these studies demonstrate that attentional focus affects performance and neuromotor outcomes, the constrained action hypothesis has been criticized for the lack of mechanistic explanations regarding how the neuromuscular system is constrained by an internal focus

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Impact of Attentional Focus on Dance Performance: A Critically Appraised Topic

Kelley R. Wiese, Jatin P. Ambegaonkar, and Joel Martin

combination of external and internal attentional cues when providing dancers feedback while teaching motor skills and when working on rehabilitation programs with injured dancers, respectively. When considering attentional focus, the Optimizing Performance through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for

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Attentional Focus and Feedback Frequency Among First Graders in Physical Education

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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The Effect of Attentional Focus on Real-Time Conscious Motor Processing During Tandem Walking in Young Adults

Shamoon S. Shahzada, Toby C.T. Mak, and Thomson W.L. Wong

regarding how an individual focuses their attention during movement execution. Wulf et al. ( 1998 ) described an “external” attentional focus as the direction of a performer’s attention to the effect of the action, and an “internal” attentional focus as the direction of attention to the action itself

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The Effects of Attentional Focus and Skill Level on the Performance of Golf Putting

Chih-Chia Chen, Yonjoong Ryuh, Tony Luczak, and John Lamberth

, focusing on feet, knee, and shoulder. However, Poolton, Maxwell, Masters, and Raab ( 2006 ) had novices utilize either an internal or external focus of attention to learn a golf putting task. Novices showed no differential effects of attentional focus in putting accuracy during learning. Furthermore