Quantifying external focus of attention in sailing by means of action sport cameras

Joost Pluijms, R. Canal Bruland, M.J.M. Hoozemans, M. Beek, K. Brocker, G.J.P. Savelsbergh

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of the current study was twofold: (1) to validate the use of action sport cameras for quantifying focus of visual attention in sailing and (2) to apply this method to examine whether an external focus of attention is associated with better performance in upwind sailing. To test the validity of this novel quantification method, we first calculated the agreement between gaze location measures and head orientation measures in 13 sailors sailing upwind during training regattas using a head mounted eye tracker. The results confirmed that for measuring visual focus of attention in upwind sailing, the agreement for the two measures was high (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.97) and the 95% limits of agreement were acceptable (between −8.0% and 14.6%). In a next step, we quantified the focus of visual attention in sailing upwind as fast as possible by means of an action sport camera. We captured sailing performance, operationalised as boat speed in the direction of the wind, and environmental conditions using a GPS, compass and wind meter. Four trials, each lasting 1 min, were analysed for 15 sailors each, resulting in a total of 30 upwind speed trials on port tack and 30 upwind speed trials on starboard tack. The results revealed that in sailing-within constantly changing environments-the focus of attention is not a significant predictor for better upwind sailing performances. This implicates that neither external nor internal foci of attention was per se correlated with better performances. Rather, relatively large interindividual differences seem to indicate that different visual attention strategies can lead to similar performance outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1595
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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