Examining Different Foci of Attention on Golf Putting Performance in Novice Learners
Keywords:OPTIMAL theory, Skill acquisition, Focus of attention, Self-confidence
Although research has leaned toward an external focus, there is no consensus on the optimal distance of the attentional focus for novice learners. The purpose of this study was to examine which type of attentional focus is beneficial for the novices performing golf putting task. Forty-five novice learners (23 males, 22 females), aged 20 to 37, participated in this study. Participants were randomized into the attentional focus of attention (FOA) conditions of internal (i.e., focus on the arm movement), external-proximal (i.e., focus on the golf club), and external-distal (i.e., focus on the target). Each participant was requested to perform four blocks of 10 putts on an artificial putting surface. The total number of putts made, total putt points achieved, and perceived confidence for each putt were recorded. A 4 (block) × 3 (condition) mixed-design analysis of variance was applied for data analysis. The external-proximal FOA condition had significantly better performance (i.e., more putt points) than the external-distal FOA condition. Under the internal FOA condition, participants significantly made more golf putt points during the third and fourth blocks than the first block. Perceived confidence was significantly elevated during the third block and fourth block compared to the first block across all conditions. Postexperimental manipulation check showed most participants adopted the focus as they were instructed. The external-distal FOA may be detrimental for novice learners in skill acquisition. Putting performance was related to the perceived confidence for the golf stroke. Therefore, it is recommended that practitioners consider the OPTIMAL theory by facilitating external-proximal FOA and the motivational factor together for novice learners.
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