Psychological Research

Steve’s latest research paper has been published in the journal Psychological Research.  Entitled Resolving the Centipede’s Dilemma: external focus distance and expertise in applied, continuous skills, the studies demonstrate the advantage gained via a distal external attentional focus whilst performing continuous movement skills.  We discovered that expertise plays a role in the immediacy of the benefit, in that the less developed the level of expertise, and the greater the potential to develop further, the more immediate the distal focus benefit.  Less skilled participants were provided with a sizeable and immediate advantage with a distal focus compared to a proximal focus and to their self-selected focus.  Experts were most effective using their well-practised and honed focus, though a prescribed distal focus matched this immediately.  We believe that given sufficient trials and practice using the distal focus, that experts will also experience significant performance gains.

It is very common in formal movement learning situations, at all standards, that participants are required and advised to focus internally on their bodily movement mechanics and proximally on any equipment they may be using.  Research has robustly demonstrated that such focal points interfere with subconscious motor control mechanisms and distract critical attentional resources from the goal of the task – which is what we should actually focus on.

Steve’s paper has been published open access by Springer Nature, so is freely available, full text, to anyone interested.  If you have any questions on this work or skill acquisition in general, please get in touch and he’ll do his best to assist.  Steve is available to run Skill Acquisition & Motor Learning courses on demand.