The effect of attentional focus on running economy

J Sports Sci. 2009 Oct;27(12):1241-8. doi: 10.1080/02640410903150467.


In research on motor control, the detrimental effect of an internal focus of attention on movement execution of well-learned motor skills is a frequently replicated finding. This experimental study was designed to determine whether this effect is observed with physiological variables during endurance exercise. We examined whether the focus of attention can influence running economy (oxygen consumption at a set running speed). Trained runners had to focus their attention on three different aspects while running on a treadmill. For three consecutive 10-min periods, runners concentrated on the running movement, on their breathing, and on their surroundings. Results showed an increased running economy in the external focus condition. In line with research on motor control, endurance sport also shows that an external focus of attention is better than an internal focus in terms of the physiological performance measure of oxygen consumption.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Environment
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance
  • Respiratory System
  • Running / physiology
  • Running / psychology*
  • Young Adult