Attentional focus instructions for golf-putting accuracy and precision


Attention can be directed towards the environment or the body. According to Wulf and Prinz (2001), directing attention towards the environment is beneficial for performance because it allows the motor system to perform without the interference from conscious processes related to limb and body information. However, it is not known if instructing to pay attention to different sensory cues per se can also influence motor performance. Novice participants performed a modified golf-putting task over 3 experimental phases: a 10-trial pre-test; a 90-trial attentional training protocol; and a 10-trial post-test. After the pre-test, participants were provided with either interoceptive (i.e., joint positioning and muscular forces) or exteroceptive (i.e., audiovisual cues) focus of attention instructions. Putting accuracy and precision data were submitted to 2 attentional instruction (interoceptive, exteroceptive) by 2 test (pre, post) mixed ANOVAs. Although ball endpoint accuracy yielded no significant changes across instructional sets, endpoint ball precision (i.e., lower variability) was reduced significantly for the exteroceptive instruction group only between the pre- and post-tests. These results mirror previous studies showing that a focus of attention away from interoceptive cues can be more beneficial for putting performance, while raising the possibility that such a strategy can direct attention towards the most task-relevant sensory cues (e.g., Tremblay & Proteau, 1998).