Paralysis by analysis? A functional framework for the effects of attentional focus on the control of motor skills

Felix Ehrlenspiel
2001 European Journal of Sport Science  
Recent experimental evidence suggests that to effectively learn a motor skill, athletes should not focus on their movement. While this finding contests commonly held beliefs, it also lacks a theoretical basis. It can be shown that classic cognitive theories of motor control or of attention do not provide for such a basis. Therefore, based on functional approaches, where the function of attention is the selection-for-action of stimuli, and movements are controlled by their anticipated effects,
more » ... integrative framework is proposed. Here, movements can be governed by either "nodal point", a strategy in which internal or external effects within a movement are attended to, or external control by the final effect in the environment. Experimental findings in support of this framework are mentioned, and implications are discussed. Key Points: • Recent research sees an external focus of attention as most effective for learning motor skills. • Classic, cognitive theories of motor control cannot convincingly account for or explain this phenomenon. • Based on a functional approach, a framework is proposed where movements are controlled by their anticipated effects.
doi:10.1080/17461390100071505 fatcat:dzn4h22wnnbxlj5gjv4gntt2wu