Reflections from expert throws coaches on the use of attentional focus cues during training
Keywords:Coaching psychology, Expert performance, Motor behavior, Track and field, Holistic focus, Coaching behavior
BACKGROUND: Previous research in motor learning shows that adopting an external focus of attention significantly benefits performance and learning among novice participants. Research has been fairly limited in regards to the attentional focus reported to be used by highly skilled performers or coaches. Fairbrother et al. (2016) suggested that experts might utilize more complex attentional strategies than a simple dyad of internal or external foci.
AIM: The purpose of the present study was to examine attentional focus cues utilized by elite track and field throws coaches during practice and competition.
METHOD: Fifteen NCAA track and field coaches completed a questionnaire related the instructions they provide their athletes during practice. Meaning units that related to attentional focus were extracted from the questionnaires and categorized into associative and dissociative cues. The cues were then categorized for various attentional focus strategies.
RESULTS: Results showed that elite coaches utilized multiple attentional focus strategies which included internal, external, and holistic focus cues. The most common attentional focus utilized with collegiate throwers was that of a holistic focus, which directs attention to the general feeling of the movement (Becker et al. 2019). It was observed that elite throws coaches alter their focus of attention instruction based on their unique style of coaching and the perceived needs of the athlete.
CONCLUSION: This research shows that attentional focus is not as simple as adopting one focus strategy for all individuals within all contexts.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Tatiana A. Zhuravleva, Christopher A. Aiken, Julie A. Partridge
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