A test of optimal theory on young adolescents' standing long jump performance and motivation

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning contends that an external focus of attention (EF), enhanced expectancies (EE), and autonomy support (AS) are key attentional and motivational variables that optimise motor performance. We examined how integrating an EF into EE and AS interventionswouldimpactyoungadolescents'standinglongjumpperformanceandself-efficacy, perceived competence, task effort, task importance and positive affect. Forty-eight participants completed 3 jumps in a baseline, EF (focus on jumping towards the cone), EE-EF (positive social-comparative feedback/high success probability) and AS-EF (self-definition of success) conditions. Both the EF and AS-EF conditions (but not the EE-EF condition) improved jump performance from baseline. The EF, EE-EF and AS-EF conditions improved young adolescents' self-efficacy, perceived competence, task effort and positive affect in comparison to baseline and were predictors of jump performance (as was task importance). However, in the EE-EF condition motivational states improved (from baseline) but this did not translate into performance improvements. The findings show that directing attention to visual external cues both independently and when framed within AS conditions enhanced young adolescents' jump performance and motivation through efficient goal-action coupling. In practice,PE teachers and sports coaches working with young adolescents can support autonomy by allowing self-definition of success using an external cue to enhance effective goal-action coupling, motor performance and motivation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102651
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Movement Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2020


  • OPTIMAL theory
  • External Focus
  • Enhanced expectancies
  • Autonomy support
  • Adolescents
  • Motor performance
  • External focus


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