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Res Q Exerc Sport. 2011 Sep;82(3):431-41.

Internal and external focus of attention in a novice form sport.

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  • 1School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, Wales.


In the current experiment, we examined optimal focus for novices during a movement sequence in which performance was measured on accurate movement form/technique. A novel gymnastics routine was practiced under either an internal skill-relevant, internal skill-irrelevant, external, or no attention focus. Retention and transfer tests were then completed. During acquisition, adopting an internal irrelevant focus significantly improved performance, whereas an external focus degraded performance. There were no significant group differences in the retention and transfer tests. This suggests that learning of movement form/technique did not benefit from a specific focus of attention. The results are interpreted via an attentional capacity viewpoint and the notion that form tasks do not always contain obvious movement effects central to common coding and the constrained action hypothesis.

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