To Focus or Not to Focus: Is Attention on the Core Components of Action Beneficial for Cycling Performance?

in The Sport Psychologist
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We conducted a counterbalanced repeated measure trial to investigate the effect of different internal and external associative strategies on endurance performance. Seventeen college-aged students were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions to test the notion that different attention-performance types (optimal Type 1, functional Type 2, and dysfunctional Type 3) would influence endurance time on a cycling task. Specifically, Type 1 represented an effortless and automatic, “flow-feeling” attentional mode. Type 2 referred to an associative focus directed at core components of the task. Type 3 represented an attentional focus directed at irrelevant components of the task. Participants completed three time-to-exhaustion-tests while reporting their perceived exertion and affective states (arousal and hedonic tone). Results revealed that Type 1 and Type 2 attentional strategies, compared with Type 3 strategy, exerted functional effects on performance, whereas a Type 3 strategy was linked to lower performance, and lower levels of arousal and pleasantness. Applied implications are discussed.

Bertollo, di Fronso, Comani, Bortoli and Robazza are with the Behavioral Imaging and Neural Dynamics Center, Dept. of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Edson Filho is with School of Psychology, University of Central Lacashire, Preston, UK; Lamberti and Ripari are with the of Dept. of Clinical and Experimental Science, University G. d’Annunzio Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy; Machado is with the School of Life Sciences and the Environment, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. Address author correspondence to Maurizio Bertollo at m.bertollo@unich.it.