The effect of attentional focus on the performance and learning of a motor skill on adolescent soccer players

Whitehouse, Matthew (2012). The effect of attentional focus on the performance and learning of a motor skill on adolescent soccer players. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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What a performer attends to when executing a skill has been studied extensively in the past several decades. Recently Wulf and colleagues (Wulf 2007b) have demonstrated that the adoption of an external focus of attention is preferable for the learning of complex motor skills. This present study aimed to extend the attentional focus research by comparing the effects of different attentional foci on learning and retention in 12 -14 year old skilled soccer players. Forty eight players were selected from a soccer academy and participated in a five week study. Each participant carried out ten trials on a soccer specific accuracy task each week. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three attentional focus groups; external, internal and control. Results show that those who learned with an external focus of attention had a greater accuracy in the performance practice trials (3.5\( \pm\)1.1) than the internal focus group (2.4\( \pm\)1.0) and control group (2.5\( \pm\)0.9). An external focus of attention was also found to benefit retention where the performance of the external focus group was superior (2.9\( \pm\)1.2) compared to the internal (1.9\( \pm\)0.8) and the control group (2.8\( \pm\)0.7). These findings offer support for the previous work on attentional focus and have furthered the research by showing the advantages of an external focus of attention in a real learning environment and adolescent participants.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education


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