We examined the effects of attentional focus instructions on the learning of movement form and carry distance in low-skilled golfers. The X-factor describes the rotation of the shoulders relative to the pelvis, and its increase during the downswing (so-called X-factor stretch) is associated with the carry distance of the ball. X-factor stretch and carry distance have been shown to be associated with an early weight shift toward the front leg during the downswing. In our study, one group (internal focus, IF) was instructed to focus on shifting their weight to their left foot while hitting the ball, whereas another group (external focus, EF) was instructed to focus on pushing against the left side of the ground. A control (C) group was not given attentional focus instructions. Participants performed 100 practice trials. Learning was assessed after a 3-day interval in a retention test without focus instructions. The EF group demonstrated a greater carry distance, X-factor stretch, and higher maximum angular velocities of the pelvis, shoulder, and wrist than both the IF and C groups, which showed very similar performances. These findings demonstrate that both movement outcome and form can be enhanced in complex skill learning by providing the learner with an appropriate external focus instruction. Moreover, they show that a single external focus cue can be sufficient to elicit an effective whole-body coordination pattern.
An and Kim are with Seoul National University, Korea. Wulf (corresponding author, firstname.lastname@example.org) is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.