Attentional focus and putting performance
The ability to concentrate during skill performance is widely acknowledged as an essential requirement in sport. There is less agreement, however, as to what athletes' should concentrate on to achieve optimal performance. Athletes have long been advised to focus attention on skill execution, as this is something they can control. Such advice may be counterproductive as experts who consciously process and control skill components often perform worse than when they execute the skill automatically. Previous research shows focusing attention externally on the effects of movements results in better performance than focusing internally on the movements themselves, even for novices with no prior skill experience. The purpose of our research was to examine the effects of attentional focus on the accuracy of putts taken 2.4 m from a hole by 16 novice, experienced, and elite golfers. Attentional focus was covertly manipulated in a dual task paradigm by having participants shadow lists of words that were internally relevant, externally relevant, or neutral, while performing the putting task. The results revealed performance differences between the groups and different patterns in the effects of the attentional focus conditions. The implications of the results for athletes at different stages of skill development are discussed.
Australian Journal of Psychology: Combined Abstracts of 2007 Australian Psychology Conferences