Forward Thinking: When a Distal External Focus Makes You Faster
Human Movement Science
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Studies have demonstrated a benefit to performance and learning of a distal relative to a proximal external focus of attention. That is, focusing on a movement effect that occurs at a greater distance from the body has been found to be more effective than concentrating on a movement effect closer to the body. The present study examined the distance effect in skilled kayakers performing an open, continuous skill. Participants (n = 27) performed a wild water racing sprint of 100 m on Class 2 water. Using a within-participants design, a distal external focus (“Focus on the finish”) was compared to a proximal external focus (“Focus on the paddle”) as well as to a control condition. The distal focus condition (30.63 s, SD = 3.21) resulted in significantly shorter sprint times than did the proximal (32.07 s, SD = 3.27) and the control (31.96 s, SD = 3.58) conditions (ps < 0.001). The effect size was large (ηp2 = 0.53). There was no significant difference between the proximal and control condition (p = 1.00). The findings demonstrate the importance of adopting a distal, rather than proximal, external focus for skilled athletes performing open, continuous skills under time pressure.
Attentional focus; Continuous skill; Distance effect; Kayaking; Open skill
Kinesiology | Psychology of Movement
Forward Thinking: When a Distal External Focus Makes You Faster.
Human Movement Science, 74