The effects of attentional focus on performance, neurophysiological activity and kinematics in a golf putting task
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Impaired performance while executing a motor task is attributed to a disruption of normal automatic processes when an internal focus of attention is used (Wulf, McNevin, & Shea, 2001). When an external focus of attention is adopted, automaticity is not constrained and improved performance is noted. What remains unclear is whether the specificity of internally focused task instructions may impact task performance. In the present study, behavioural, kinematic and neurophysiological outcome measures assessed the implications of changing attentional focus for novice and skilled performers in a golf putting task. Findings provided evidence that when novice participants used an internal focus of attention related to task execution, accuracy, kinematics of the putter, and variability of EMG activity in the upper extremity were all adversely affected as task difficulty increased. Instructions which were internal but anatomically distal to the primary movement during the task appeared to have an effect similar to an external focus of attention and did not adversely affect outcomes.