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Frontiers in Psychology

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Directing attention to an external focus has been shown to facilitate motor performance. For expert performers, however, results have been mixed. Additionally, little is currently known about how focus cues affect the performance of complex continuous whole-body coordination tasks involving object manipulation such as jump roping. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of attentional focus cues on single-rope speed jumping by experts and novices. The cues directed attention toward the upper (UP) or lower (LB) body and either internally (IN) or externally (EX). Participants (N = 30) completed bouts of speed jumping during a baseline trial and under experimental conditions (UPIN, UPEX, LBIN, LBEX). Jumps and errors were recorded for each trial. Number of jumps (NJ) and errors (NE) were analyzed using separate Friedman’s Tests comparing for each group to compare trials, with Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Tests for post hoc comparisons. Cumulative number of jumps (CNJ) and errors (CNE) for each condition were compared using separate Friedman’s Tests with Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Tests for post hoc comparisons. For experts, baseline NJ was significantly higher than NJ for each trial under the UPIN, UPEX, and LBIN conditions. No differences between baseline NE and any trials were detected. Additionally, no differences were detected between conditions for NJ or NE. For novices, baseline NJ and NE were significantly higher and lower, respectively, compared to Trial 1 under the LBEX condition. Both the UPIN and UPEX conditions produced higher CNJ and lower CNE than the LBIN and LBEX conditions, respectively. Results showed that experts and novices responded in distinctly different patterns to the four conditions. Experts showed degraded performance under the UPIN, UPEX, and LBIN conditions whereas novices only showed temporarily degraded performance under the LBEX condition. These findings may reflect differences in mastery of whole-body coordination and are partially consistent with the Constrained Action Hypothesis(CAH) despite not supporting specific predictions related to the benefit of external focus cues.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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