Influence of varying focus of attention conditions on dart throwing performance in experts and novices

Exp Brain Res. 2012 Mar;217(2):287-97. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2992-5. Epub 2012 Jan 1.


Research suggests an external focus of attention positively affects motor learning more than an internal focus; however, little research has considered this relationship in motor control situations. The present study examined the role of varying focus of attention conditions on dart throwing performance. Experts (n = 6) and novices (n = 6) performed 84 throws under two internal and one external conditions and in the presence and absence of knowledge of results (KR). Results indicated clear differences between experts and novices on both performance and motor control outcomes. Further, there was some evidence that movement execution was slowed in experts but not in novices, although results were somewhat inconclusive. Our analyses suggest that varying focus of attention affects temporal parameters of movement execution in experts but not spatial parameters. Interestingly, both experts and novices generally perceived all instruction conditions to be hindrances to performance, with the exception of the external focus with KR condition. Further work is necessary to determine the extent to which these results apply to other open and closed skills.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*