Focus of Attention in Children's Motor Learning: Examining the Role of Age and Working Memory

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The authors investigated the relative effectiveness
of different attentional focus instructions on motor learning in primary
school children. In addition, we explored whether the effect
of attentional focus on motor learning was influenced by children’s
age and verbal working memory capacity. Novice 8–9-year
old children (n D 30) and 11–12-year-old children (n D 30) practiced
a golf putting task. For each age group, half the participants
received instructions to focus (internally) on the swing of their
arm, while the other half was instructed to focus (externally) on
the swing of the club. Children’s verbal working memory capacity
was assessed with the Automated Working Memory Assessment.
Consistent with many reports on adult’s motor learning, children
in the external groups demonstrated greater improvements in putting
accuracy than children who practiced with an internal focus.
This effect was similar across age groups. Verbal working memory
capacity was not found to be predictive of motor learning, neither
for children in the internal focus groups nor for children in
the external focus groups. In conclusion, primary school children’s
motor learning is enhanced by external focus instructions compared
to internal focus instructions. The purported modulatory
roles of children’s working memory, attentional capacity, or focus
preferences require further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2016

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