Publication: Attentional Focus and the Effect on Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Performance

Research Impact: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether changing the focus of attention of field sport athletes would affect their performance for a change-of-direction (COD) and acceleration task. Seventeen male college students were recruited to perform 9 trials each of a change-of-direction and acceleration test using verbal instructions designed to induce a neutral (NEU), internal (INT), and external (EXT) focus of attention. Qualitative data were collected and assessed by use of questionnaires to determine whether participants performed the trials using the prescribed focus of attention. Results revealed that the EXT experimental condition was significantly faster than both the NEU and INT experimental conditions. Questionnaire responses provided qualitative data that showed participants performing in the INT and EXT conditions invoked the desired focus of attention 47 and 82% of the time, respectively. The results indicated that athletes can enhance their performance by invoking an EXT focus of attention while performing complex motor skills such as COD and acceleration.


McNicholas, K. and Comyns, T.M.  Attentional Focus and the Effect on Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Performance, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: July 2020 – Volume 34 – Issue 7 – p 1860-1866. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003610

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