The impact of focus of attention (FOA) on curling rock delivery

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Robak, Nicole
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Application of focus of attention theory (FOA) to accuracy-oriented sports has shown goal oriented improvements but has not been investigated in curling. The present study investigated FOA application to curling stone delivery. Specifically, if in-turn and out-turn draws and take-out shots can aid in the performance of highly skilled Canadian curlers (HSCC). Right-handed HSCC (N=11; 4 female, Mage=27.23, SDage=4.56) threw in-turn and out-turn draws and take-out shots with control, external and internal focus instructions. Dependent variables measured include draw end-point accuracy (constant error [CE], absolute constant error [ACE], radial error [RE], and variable error), take-out end-point accuracy (hits or miss; miss inside or miss outside), hog-to-hog time, time-on-line, velocity, and acceleration. Questionnaires explored focus strategies. Performance data was analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference post-hoc test for significant results, and planned comparisons for non-significant results. Take-out accuracy was analyzed using Cochranes Q and McNemar’s test. Speed and accuracy correlations were analyzed using Pearson’s correlation and Point-biserial correlation. Thematic analyses were conducted on questionnaires. Draw analysis revealed that control in-turns resulted in significantly lower CE, RE, and ACE scores than internal focus in-turns. Take-outs hit a significantly greater proportion of the time with an external focus out-turn compared to an internal focus. Velocity and acceleration at both hog-lines, and halfway were significantly slower for draws than take-outs. Hog-to-hog time was significantly more for draws than take-outs. The percent of time-on-line was significantly less for draws than take-outs. Draws released at slower speeds significantly correlated with worse CE scores. Take-outs released at faster speeds significantly correlated with successful hits. Focus strategies described by HSCC indicate the importance of shifting attentional foci throughout both delivery approaches and the importance of “touch and sensation” for draws. Empirical evidence that differentiates draws from take-outs are provided. An external focus was most beneficial for improving accuracy of take-outs supporting FOA theory (Wulf, McNevin, & Shea, 2001). An internal focus was detrimental to draw accuracy supporting the constrained action hypothesis (Wulf, Höb, & Prinz, 1998). Future research can examine broader foci for draws and explore what “touch and sensation” mean for HSCC.
Curling, Sport, Highly Skilled, Athlete, Focus of Attention