Enhancing the learning of sport skills through external-focus feedback

J Mot Behav. 2002 Jun;34(2):171-82. doi: 10.1080/00222890209601939.


The authors examined how the effectiveness of feedback for the learning of complex motor skills is affected by the focus of attention it induces. The feedback referred specifically either to body movements (internal focus) or to movement effects (external focus). In Experiment 1, groups of novices and advanced volleyball players (N = 48) practiced "tennis" serves under internal-focus or external-focus feedback conditions in a 2 (expertise) x 2 (feedback type) design. Type of feedback did not differentially affect movement quality, but external-focus feedback resulted in greater accuracy of the serves than internal-focus feedback during both practice and retention, independent of the level of expertise. In Experiment 2, the effects of relative feedback frequency as a function of attentional focus were examined. A 2 (feedback frequency: 100% vs. 33%) x 2 (feedback type) design was used. Experienced soccer players (N = 52) were required to shoot lofted passes at a target. External-focus feedback resulted in greater accuracy than internal-focus feedback did. In addition, reduced feedback frequency was beneficial under internal-focus feedback conditions, whereas 100% and 33% feedback were equally effective under external-focus conditions. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of effect-related, as opposed to movement-related, feedback and also suggest that there is a need to revise current views regarding the role of feedback for motor learning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Sports*