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J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2073-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1521.

Instructing skilled athletes to focus their attention externally at greater distances enhances jumping performance.

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1
Department of Kinesiology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA. jporter@siu.edu

Abstract

Numerous studies have demonstrated that using verbal instructions to direct a performers' attention externally significantly enhances motor skill performance. Limited research has also demonstrated that increasing the distance of an external focus relative to the body magnifies the effect of an external focus of attention. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of increasing the distance of an external focus of attention on standing long jump performance in a highly trained population. Using a counterbalanced, within-participant design, current collegiate male athletes (n = 38, age = 20.7 years, SD = 2.2 years) performed 2 standing long jumps following 4 different sets of verbal instructions. Subjects completed all 8 trials in 1 testing session, which lasted approximately 20 minutes. One set of instructions was designed to focus attention internally toward the movements of the body (INT), a second set of instructions focused attention externally near the body (EXN), another set of instructions directed attention externally to a target farther from the body (EXF), and the last set of instructions served as a control condition (CON) and encouraged the athlete to use his "normal" focus while jumping. Results indicated that the EXN and EXF conditions elicited jump distances that were significantly greater than the INT and CON conditions. In addition, the participants jumped significantly farther in the EXF condition than the EXN condition. These findings suggest that increasing the distance of an external focus of attention relative to the body, immediately improved standing long jump performance in a highly trained population.

PMID:
23222082
DOI:
10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1521
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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