The effects of attentional focus in the preparation and execution of a standing long jump
Attentional focus research suggests an external focus leads to improved motor performance compared to an internal focus (Wulf in Int Rev Sport Exerc Psychol 6:77–104, 2013), but skilled athletes often report using an internal focus (Fairbrother et al., Front Psychol 7:1028, 2016) and sometimes shifting between different foci in the preparation and execution phases of performance (Bernier et al. in J Appl Sport Psychol 23:326–341, 2011; Bernier et al. in Sport Psychol 30:256–266, 2016). To date, focus shifts have been unexplored in experimental research, thus the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of shifting focus between the preparation and execution phases of a standing long jump. Participants (N = 29) completed two jumps in a control condition (CON), followed by two jumps in four experimental conditions presented in a counterbalanced order. Conditions included using an external focus (EF) and internal focus (IF) in both preparation and execution of the skill, as well as shifting from an internal focus in preparation to an external focus in execution (ITE), and an external focus in preparation to an internal focus in execution (ETI). Jump distance was analyzed with a repeated measures ANOVA. The main effect of condition was significant, p < .001, with EF producing longer jumps than all other conditions (p’s < 0.05). ITE also generated farther jumps than IF and CON (p’s < 0.05). The superiority of the EF and ITE conditions suggests that the focus employed in execution has the strongest impact on performance. Additionally, if an internal focus must be used in preparation, the performance decrement can be ameliorated by shifting to an external focus during execution.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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