Purpose: Research demonstrates that verbal instructions directing attention externally (i.e., toward the effect of the movement) significantly enhances motor skill performance, and that this effect is enhanced when the distance of the external focus relative to the body is increased. However, few studies have investigated this distance of focus effect in children. The present study aimed to examine the effect of increasing the distance of an external focus on children’s motor performance in two experiments. Method: In experiment 1, children performed standing long jumps under three instructional conditions (control, internal attentional focus, and external attentional focus). In experiment 2, children performed standing long jumps under four instructional conditions (control, internal, proximal external attentional focus and distal external attentional focus). Results: In experiment 1, results revealed a statistically significant jump distance advantage for the external focus condition. In experiment 2, a statistically significant jump distance advantage for the distal external focus condition was found. However, instructional and task characteristics beyond distance of focus may have been influential. Conclusions: External focus instructions benefit children’s jump performance, but specifically when they are supported by a concrete movement goal reflecting relevant performance criteria. The findings highlight the importance of examining the content of instructions and relevant task characteristics provided to children beyond attentional focus to consider their motivational characteristics.
- External Focus
- Motor Control
Marchant, D., Griffiths, G., Partridge, J., Belsley, L., & Porter, J. (2018). The Influence of External Focus Instruction Characteristics on Children’s Motor Performance. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2018.1512075