Effects of focus of attention depend on golfers' skill
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In this study, we examined the influence of internal and external attention instructions on the performance of a pitch shot by golfers who were either highly skilled (mean handicap = 4) or low skilled (mean handicap = 26). Ten golfers in each skill group used a 9-iron to pitch a ball as close as possible to an orange pylon, which was located at distances of 10, 15, 20 or 25 m from the golfer. Focus of attention was manipulated within participants (counterbalanced across golfers). Under internal focus of attention instructions, the participants were told to concentrate on the form of the golf swing and to adjust the force of their swing depending on the distance of the shot. For the external focus of attention conditions, the participants were told to concentrate on hitting the ball as close to the target pylon as possible. The most intriguing finding was an interaction of skill with focus of attention instructions for variability in performance. Similar to the findings of Wulf and colleagues, the highly skilled golfers performed better with external attention instructions than with internal focus instructions. In contrast, the low-skill golfers performed better with the internal than with the external focus of attention instructions. These findings are discussed relative to theoretical issues in motor learning and practical issues for golf instruction.
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