External focus of attention and autonomy support have additive benefits for motor performance in children

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Psychology of Sport and Exercise



First page number:


Last page number:



Objectives The purpose of this study was to examine the combined effects of external focus instructions and autonomy support on motor performance of children. In addition, we sought to provide evidence for an increased focus on the task goal under the external focus condition by using an inattentional blindness manipulation. Design Within-participant design. Method Thirty-six children (mean age = 8.5 ± 1.3 years) were asked to perform a bowling task with their dominant hand. Each participant performed 8 trials under external focus (path of the ball), internal focus (hand), or control conditions. In each attentional focus condition, they performed half of the trials under a choice (autonomy support) condition, in which they were able to choose among 4 bowling balls, and a no-choice condition (white ball). Results The external focus instruction resulted in greater bowling accuracy (i.e., more pins knocked down) than internal focus and no instructions (control). Furthermore, choice resulted in more effective performance than no choice. Thus, both factors had additive benefits for performance. There was some evidence for an increased task focus in the external condition. Conclusions The present results show that, within the same individuals, instructions to adopt an external focus and the provision of a small choice contributed independently to enhance motor performance in children. © 2017



UNLV article access

Search your library