Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Influence of different focus of attention instructions on learning volleyball skills for young novices

Afroditi Lola, Andriani Koutsomarkou, George Tzetzis

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2022.174.14

Abstract

The simultaneous improvement of both form and outcome of sport skills is a challenge for every instructor since these are competing goals, especially for novices, and in the early stages of learning the improvement of movement form is usually more important than outcome. However, when novices have both goals, outcome usually prevails over form. External over internal focus of attention has been proposed by many researchers as an effective method for the development and learning of movement form or outcome. In this study, 57 girls were randomly divided into 2 experimental groups (external and internal) and a control group. All groups performed a pre-test. The two experimental groups followed an intervention program for 12 training units (6 weeks X 2 times a week). A post-test and a transfer test followed two weeks later. Data were analysed by factorial ANOVA (3 groups X 3 measurements) with repeated measurements of the last factor, followed by a post-hoc Tukey test. Both experimental groups, but not the control group, improved their performance in both form and outcome from pre-test to post-test and transfer test. The external focus group scored better in both form and outcome than the internal focus group in the post and transfer tests. It seems that external focus drives a subconscious motor control that results in greater movement automaticity and improves both form and outcome of sport skills. It is concluded that the external focus method is appropriate to develop both form and outcome of perceptual-motor skills.


Keywords

Motor development; External instructions; Internal instructions; Motor performance

References

Abdollahipour, R., & Psotta, R. (2017). Is an external focus of attention more beneficial than an internal focus to ball catching in children? Kinesiology: International Journal of Fundamental and Applied Kinesiology, 49(2), 235-241. https://doi.org/10.26582/k.49.2.2

Abdollahipour, R., Nieto, M. P., Psotta, R., & Wulf, G. (2017). External focus of attention and autonomy support have additive benefits for motor performance in children. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 32, 17-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.05.004

Agar, C., Humphries, C. A., Naquin, M., Hebert, E., & Wood, R. (2016). Does varying attentional focus affect skill acquisition in children? A comparison of internal and external focus instructions and feedback. Physical Educator, 73(4), 639. https://doi.org/10.18666/TPE-2016-V73-I4-6883

Al-Abood, S. A., Bennett, S. J., Hernandez, F. M., Ashford, D., & Davids, K. (2002). Effect of verbal instructions and image size on visual search strategies in basketball free throw shooting. Journal of Sports Sciences, 20(3), 271-278. https://doi.org/10.1080/026404102317284817

American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. 1965. AAHPER Youth Fitness Test Manual, Washington, D.C.: the Association.

Beilock, S. L., & Carr, T. H. (2001). On the fragility of skilled performance: What governs choking under pressure? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130(4), 701. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.130.4.701

Bell, J. J., & Hardy, J. (2009). Effects of attentional focus on skilled performance in golf. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21(2), 163-177. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200902795323

Bortoli, L., Bertollo, M., Hanin, Y., & Robazza, C. (2012). Striving for excellence: A multi-action plan intervention model for shooters. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(5), 693-701. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2012.04.006

Brocken, J. E. A., Kal, E. C., & Van der Kamp, J. (2016). Focus of attention in children's motor learning: Examining the role of age and working memory. Journal of Motor Behavior, 48(6), 527-534. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222895.2016.1152224

Chiviacowsky, S. (2014). Self-controlled practice: Autonomy protects perceptions of competence and enhances motor learning. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15(5), 505-510. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.05.003

Chiviacowsky, S., Wulf, G., & Ávila, L. T. G. (2013). An external focus of attention enhances motor learning in children with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57(7), 627-634. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01569.x

Chua, L. K., Dimapilis, M. K., Iwatsuki, T., Abdollahipour, R., Lewthwaite, R., & Wulf, G. (2019). Practice variability promotes an external focus of attention and enhances motor skill learning. Human Movement Science, 64, 307-319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2019.02.015

Denny, V. G. (2010). Where to focus attention when performing the jump float serve in volleyball. Journal of Coaching Education, 3(1), 56-68. https://doi.org/10.1123/jce.3.1.56

Ducharme, S. W., & Wu, W. F. (2015). An external focus of attention improves stability after a perturbation during a dynamic balance task. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 3(2), 74-90. https://doi.org/10.1123/jmld.2015-0011

Emanuel, M., Jarus, T., & Bart, O. (2008). Effect of focus of attention and age on motor acquisition, retention, and transfer: a randomized trial. Physical Therapy, 88(2), 251-260. https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20060174

Englert, C., Bertrams, A., Furley, P., & Oudejans, R. R. (2015). Is ego depletion associated with increased distractibility? Results from a basketball free throw task. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 18, 26-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.12.001

Fitts, P. M., & Posner, M. I. (1967). Human Performance. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Flores, F. S., Schild, J. G., & Chiviacowsky, S. (2015). Benefits of external focus instructions on the learning of a balance task in children of different ages. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(4), 311-320.

Ghorbani, S. (2019). Motivational effects of enhancing expectancies and autonomy for motor learning: An examination of the OPTIMAL theory. The Journal of General Psychology, 146(1), 79-92. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221309.2018.1535486

Ghorbani, S., Dana, A., & Fallah, Z. (2019). The effects of external and internal focus of attention on motor learning and promoting learner's focus. Biomedical Human Kinetics, 11(1), 175-180. https://doi.org/10.2478/bhk-2019-0024

Granados, C. (2010). The Effects of observation, dialogue, and attentional focus in dyadic training protocol. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Hadler, R., Chiviacowsky, S., Wulf, G., & Schild, J. F. G. (2014). Children's learning of tennis skills is facilitated by external focus instructions. Motriz: Revista de Educação Física, 20(4), 418-422. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1980-65742014000400008

Haibach, P. S., Collier, D. H., & Reid, G. (2011). Motor learning and development. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Hill, M. W., Duncan, M. J., Oxford, S. W., Kay, A. D., & Price, M. J. (2018). Effects of external loads on postural sway during quiet stance in adults aged 20-80 years. Applied Ergonomics, 66, 64-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2017.08.007

Kal, E. C., van der Kamp, J., & Houdijk, H. (2013). External attentional focus enhances movement automatization: A comprehensive test of the constrained action hypothesis. Human Movement Science, 32(4), 527-539. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2013.04.001

Lawrence, G. P., Gottwald, V. M., Hardy, J., & Khan, M. A. (2011). Internal and external focus of attention in a novice form sport. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82, 431-441. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2011.10599775

Lohse, K. R., Sherwood, D. E., & Healy, A. F. (2011). Neuromuscular effects of shifting the focus of attention in a simple force production task. Journal of Motor Behavior, 43(2), 173-184. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222895.2011.555436

Lohse, K. R., Sherwood, D. E., & Healy, A. F. (2014). On the advantage of an external focus of attention: a benefit to learning or performance?. Human Movement Science, 33, 120-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2013.07.022

Lohse, K. R., Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2012). Attentional focus affects movement efficiency. Skill acquisition in sport: Research, theory & practice, 40-58.

Lola, A. C., & Tzetzis, G. C., (2020). Analogy versus explicit and implicit learning of a volleyball skill for novices: The effect on motor performance and self-efficacy. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 20(5), 2478-2486.

Lola, A. C., Tzetzis, G. C., & Zetou, H. (2012). The effect of implicit and explicit practice in the development of decision making in volleyball serving. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114(2), 665-678. https://doi.org/10.2466/05.23.25.PMS.114.2.665-678

Maddox, M. D., Wulf, G., & Wright, D. L. (1999). The effect of an internal vs. external focus of attention on the learning of a tennis stroke. Journal of Exercise Psychology, 21(2), 78-85.

Makaruk, H., Porter, J. M., Bodasińska, A., & Palmer, S. (2020). Optimizing the penalty kick under external focus of attention and autonomy support instructions. European Journal of Sport Science, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2020.1720829

Makaruk, H., Porter, J. M., Czaplicki, A., Sadowski, J., & Sacewicz, T. (2012). Minerva Medica Copyrightū. The Journal of Sports Μedicine and Physical Fitness, 52, 319-27.

Marchant, D. C., Clough, P. J., & Crawshaw, M. (2007). The effects of attentional focusing strategies on novice dart throwing performance and their task experiences. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(3), 291-303. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2007.9671837

Marchant, D. C., Clough, P. J., Crawshaw, M. and Levy, A. (2009). Novice motor skill performance and task experience is influenced by attentional focusing instructions and instruction preferences. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7, 488-502. https://doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2009.9671921

Masters, R. S. (1992). Knowledge, knerves and know‐how: The role of explicit versus implicit knowledge in the breakdown of a complex motor skill under pressure. British Journal of Psychology, 83(3), 343-358. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1992.tb02446.x

Nicholls, A. R., Holt, N. L., Polman, R. C., & James, D. W. G. (2005). Stress and coping among international adolescent golfers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17(4), 333-340. https://doi.org/10.1080/10413200500313644

Niźnikowski, T., Sadowski, J., Niźnikowska, E., Miller, J. F., & Wiśniowski, W. (2017). Effectiveness of Different Types of Feedback in the Learning of Complex Movement Tasks. Polish Journal of Applied Sciences, 2(4), 129-132.

Parr, R., & Button, C. (2009). End-point focus of attention: learning the'catch'in rowing. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 40(4), 616-635.

Perreault, M. E., & French, K. E. (2016). Differences in children's thinking and learning during attentional focus instruction. Human Movement Science, 45, 154-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2015.11.013

Poolton, J. M., Maxwell, J. P., Masters, R. S. W., & Raab, M. (2006). Benefits of an external focus of attention: Common coding or conscious processing?. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(1), 89-99. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410500130854

Porter, J. M., Anton, P. M., Wikoff, N. M., & Ostrowski, J. B. (2013). Instructing skilled athletes to focus their attention externally at greater distances enhances jumping performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27(8), 2073-2078. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1521

Porter, J. M., Ostrowski, E. J., Nolan, R. P., & Wu, W. F. (2010). Standing long-jump performance is enhanced when using an external focus of attention. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(7), 1746-1750. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181df7fbf

Roshandel, S., Taheri, H., & Moghadam, A. (2017). Do children benefit from external focus of attention as much as adults? A motor learning study. Modern Applied Science, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.5539/mas.v11n7p85

Saemi, E., Porter, J., Wulf, G., Ghotbi-Varzaneh, A., & Bakhtiari, S. (2013). Adopting an external focus of attention facilitates motor learning in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Kinesiology: International Journal of Fundamental and Applied Kinesiology, 45(2), 179-185.

Shiffrin, R. M., & Schneider, W. (1977). Controlled and automatic human information processing: II. Perceptual learning, automatic attending and a general theory. Psychological Review, 84(2), 127. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.127

Singh, H., & Wulf, G. (2020). The distance effect and level of expertise: Is the optimal external focus different for low-skilled and high-skilled performers? Human Movement Science, 73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2020.102663

Themanson, J. R., Pontifex, M. B., Hillman, C. H., & McAuley, E. (2011). The relation of self-efficacy and error-related self-regulation. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 80(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2011.01.005

Tsetseli, M., Zetou, E., Vernadakis, N., & Michalopoulou, M. (2016). The effect of internal and external focus of attention on game performance in tennis. Acta Gymnica, 46(4), 162-173. https://doi.org/10.5507/ag.2016.021

Tsetseli, M., Zetou, E., Vernadakis, N., & Mountaki, F. (2018). The attentional focus impact on tennis skills' technique in 10 and under years old players: Implications for real game situations. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 13(2): 328-339. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2018.132.15

Tzetzis, G., & Lola, A. C. (2015). The effect of analogy, implicit, and explicit learning on anticipation in volleyball serving. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 46(2), 152-166.

van Abswoude, F., Nuijen, N. B., van der Kamp, J., & Steenbergen, B. (2018). Individual differences influencing immediate effects of internal and external focus instructions on children's motor performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 89(2), 190-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2018.1442915

van der Graaff, E., Hoozemans, M., Pasteuning, M., Veeger, D., & Beek, P. J. (2018). Focus of attention instructions during baseball pitching training. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 13(3), 391-397. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747954117711095

Wulf, G. (2008). Attentional focus effects in balance acrobats. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79(3), 319-325. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2008.10599495

Wulf, G. (2013). Attentional focus and motor learning: a review of 15 years. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6(1), 77-104. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2012.723728

Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2010). Effortless motor learning? An external focus of attention enhances movement effectiveness and efficiency. Effortless attention: A new perspective in attention and action, 75-101. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262013840.003.0004

Wulf, G., & Lewthwaite, R. (2016). Optimizing performance through intrinsic motivation and attention for learning: The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(5), 1382-1414. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0999-9

Wulf, G., & Su, J. (2007). An external focus of attention enhances golf shot accuracy in beginners and experts. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78(4), 384-389. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2007.10599436

Wulf, G., Chiviacowsky, S., Schiller, E., & Ávila, L. T. G. (2010). Frequent external focus feedback enhances motor learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 190. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00190

Wulf, G., Höß, M., & Prinz, W. (1998). Instructions for motor learning: Differential effects of internal versu s external focus of attention. Journal of Motor Behavior, 30(2), 169-179. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222899809601334

Wulf, G., McConnel, N., Gärtner, M., & Schwarz, A. (2002). Enhancing the learning of sport skills through external-focus feedback. Journal of Motor Behavior, 34(2), 171-182. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222890209601939

Wulf, G., McNevin, N., & Shea, C. H. (2001). The automaticity of complex motor skill learning as a function of attentional focus. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, 54(4), 1143-1154. https://doi.org/10.1080/713756012

Wulf, G., Shea, C., & Park, J. H. (2001). Attention and motor performance: preferences for and advantages of an external focus. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 72(4), 335-344. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2001.10608970

Wulf, G., Wächter, S., & Wortmann, S. (2003). Attentional focus in motor skill learning: Do females benefit from an external focus?. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 12(1), 37-52. https://doi.org/10.1123/wspaj.12.1.37

Yamada, M., Raisbeck, L. D., & Porter, J. M. (2020). The effects of using imagery to elicit an external focus of attention. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2020.1733455

Zetou, E., & Charitonidis, K. (2002). The teaching of volleyball. Thessaloniki: University Studio Press.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2022.174.14





Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.