To execute flawlessly and automatically in sports competition is the goal of any serious athlete. Automaticity suggests nonconscious attention to the act itself while executing, and not being aware of and therefore vulnerable to external and internal distractors. Self-paced sports and events in sports allow time for preparing to perform in a stable and predictable situation. More recently, cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiological measures associated with developing and realizing proficiency in such acts have become increasingly identified. Many themes associated with these topics appear in the scholarly literature: conscious vs. nonconscious, controlled vs. automatic, voluntary vs. involuntary, explicit vs. implicit, systematic vs. heuristic, willed vs. nonwilled, aware vs. unaware, internal vs. externally oriented, and intentional vs. unintentional behaviors. Implications are being made about ways to influence the learning process by modeling expertise behaviors, as well as enhancing the performance of elite athletes. Of particular importance is the immediate preperformance and during-performance routine that serves as a mechanism for self-regulation of arousal level, thoughts, performance expectancy, and attentional focus.
Robert N. Singer is with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Florida, PO Box 118205, Gainesville, FL 32611-8205.