Optimising Golf Putting

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International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology


© 2020 International Society of Sport Psychology. In the current study, we implemented the three key factors (i.e., enhanced expectancies [EE], autonomy support [AS], and external focus [EF]) of the OPTIMAL theory [Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2016). Optimizing performance through intrinsic motivation and attention for learning: The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23(5), 1382–1414. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0999-9]. Following the findings in an earlier study that the simultaneous use of EE, AS, and EF during practice resulted in learning advantages, we explored whether the implementation of EE, AS, and EF in a consecutive manner during practice would be beneficial for the learning of golf putting. Optimised and control groups first completed a pre-test under neutral conditions. Optimised group participants were then provided a different condition for each of three acquisition blocks in a counterbalanced order: (a) positive feedback (EE); (b) choice of golf ball colour (AS); and (c) instructions to focus on a pendulum-like swing motion (EF). Control group participants practised under neutral conditions. The optimised group outperformed the control group during practice and on a delayed retention test, as measured by accuracy score and number of successful putts. Additionally, optimised group participants reported higher levels of confidence and positive affect after practice, and they were more confident prior to the retention test, as compared to control group participants. Our findings indicate that the key motivational (EE and AS) and attentional (EF) factors of the OPTIMAL theory can be applied individually in a sequential fashion, and in any order, throughout practice to benefit skill learning.


Autonomy support; Enhanced expectancies; External focus of attention; Intrinsic motivation; OPTIMAL theory


Exercise Science



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