Date of Award
Master of Science in Education
Utilization of an external focus of attention has been proved to be beneficial in the motor learning literature. When people focus on the effects of the movement (i.e., external focus of attention), the motor skill is enhanced compared to directing attention to the body movements (i.e., internal focus of attention). Previous studies that have examined the effect of focus of attention on learning a motor skill often used visible or imagined objects to elicit an external focus of attention. However, the effects of these different types of external focus instruction have not been investigated thoroughly. It was unclear prior to this thesis how the focus of attention effect is influenced by the use of imagery. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the difference between directing attention to a visible object and an imagined object when performing and learning the standing long jump. It was hypothesized the group of participants who practiced with an imagery instruction would perform similarly in the post-test with or without an object that was used to elicit an external focus of attention. It was also hypothesized the group of participants who practiced with a visible object would perform similarly during the post-test with the same visible object; but the performance would decline in the post-test with no object. The results indicated there was no difference in the effect of the two different types of instructions. That is, performance during the practice and post-test were similar for the participants who imagined an object during the practice phase compared to the participants who practiced with an object. The post-test with and without an object were also similar within the same group as well as between the two groups. The results of the study provided additional evidence vision does not influence the focus of attention effect. Participants that practiced the standing long jump with a visible cone did not change the performance on the transfer test when the cone was removed. Also, participants that were instructed to direct their attention toward an imaginary cone performed just as well as participants that focused their attention on a visible cone on both the retention and transfer test. Therefore, the primary finding of the present experiment is that the focus of attention effect can be induced through the use of imagery.
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