A distal focus of attention leads to superior performance on a golf putting task

Kearney, Philip E. (2015) A distal focus of attention leads to superior performance on a golf putting task. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. ISSN 1557-251X

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Abstract

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the optimal focus of attention for novice golfers performing a putting task. Previous research has advocated that novices should adopt a proximal external focus, but this advice has been drawn from research on a relatively complex task (i.e. pitch shot). Research examining golf putting specifically has failed to find an advantage of adopting either a proximal or an internal focus, but experiments have not included a distal focus condition. The present research investigated if adopting a distal external focus of attention would lead to superior putting performance in novices. Following familiarisation with the task, general putting technique, and the concept of attentional focus, 18 participants completed 3 sets of 15 putts in a counter-balanced, within participant design, adopting a different focus of attention for each set (internal, proximal external, and distal external). After every five putts, participants were asked to answer three questions concerning how much they focused on internal, proximal or distal cues. On the completion of the trials, participants were asked to identify if they had a preference for one or other focus. The self-reports indicated that participants adhered to the three instructional conditions. Performance in the distal focus condition was significantly better than performance in the proximal or internal conditions, which did not differ. Significantly more participants preferred a distal focus of attention than would be expected by chance. Task complexity appears to be an important variable in the selection of the optimal external focus of attention for novices.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Departments > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Philip Kearney
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2015 15:16
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 14:17
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/1562

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