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The effect of attentional focus instructions on performance and technique in a complex open skill.pdf (1.29 MB)

The effect of attentional focus instructions on performance and technique in a complex open skill

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posted on 2023-01-10, 17:28 authored by Hamish G. Bull, Alexandra C. Atack, Jamie S North, Colm MurphyColm Murphy

 External focus of attention has been shown to promote more automatic motor control, yielding better performance and more efficient technique, than an internal focus. However, most research has used closed-skill tasks in novices. The extent to which the reported pattern of findings generalises to more complex, time-constrained tasks requires further investigation. In this study, we investigated the effect of attentional focus instructions on performance and technique in an open-skill task in skilled performers. Thirteen skilled cricket batters batted from a ball projector in four conditions, receiving instructions to focus on the movement of their hands (internal focus), the movement of their bat (proximal external focus), the flight of the ball (distal external focus), or no instruction (control). Performance and technique were measured by quality of bat-ball contacts and step length/knee flexion, respectively, whilst playing straight drives. Compared to external focus and control conditions, focusing internally yielded significantly worse batting performance and shorter step lengths, with the largest effects observed between internal and distal external focus conditions. Quality of bat-ball contact data suggested that participants’ ability to protect the wicket (as evidenced by more miss/edge shots) was more negatively affected by focusing internally than their ability to play shots to score runs (as evidenced by fewer good bat-ball contacts). Findings suggest that, for skilled performance of open-skill tasks, a distal external focus yields more effective performance and technique compared with focusing internally. Findings highlight the need for further research on attentional focus effects between different skills within specific sports. 

History

Published in

European Journal of Sport Science

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Citation

Bull, H. G., Atack, A. C., North, J. S., & Murphy, C. P. (2022) 'The effect of attentional focus instructions on performance and technique in a complex open skill', European Journal of Sport Science, DOI:.10.1080/17461391.2022.2150895

Print ISSN

1746-1391

Electronic ISSN

1536-7290

Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Colm Murphy

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Sport and Performance Psychology

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors

Language

  • en

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