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The present study examined the influences of instructions that directed the learner's attention to either an internal focus or external focus on the performance and learning of a dynamic balance task. The instructions given were related to either the participant's own body movements (internal focus) or to the effects their movements had on the apparatus (external focus) (Wulf et. al, 1998). The purpose of this study was to investigate balance performance and learning in 9-12 year old children using internal and external focus of attention strategies. Participants were 9-12 year olds (N= 88) from intact physical education classes at a K-12 public school in Tallahassee, Florida. The hypotheses tested were instructions referring to an external focus of attention would be more effective in promoting balance performance and learning than internal focus instructions for 9-10 year olds and 11-12 year olds. Participants were randomly assigned into an external focus group, internal focus group and control group for 9-10 year olds and 11-12 year olds. A Biodex Dynamic Balance System was used to measure select dependent variables (overall stability, anterior/posterior stability, medial/lateral stability, mean deflection, anterior/posterior deflection and medial/lateral deflection) for six instructional set trials. A questionnaire was given to participants following the testing trials to examine whether or not participants were focusing on the instructional set cues. The instructional set cues were as follows: stand as still as possible while "keeping your feet still" (internal focus), stand as still as possible while "keeping the platform still" (external focus), stand as still as possible (control group). Two days following the testing trials, each group completed three retention trials with no focus of attention instructions provided. Participants who were given an external focus cue and said they used it based on the results of the questionnaire were significantly better in balance performance and learning than those who were given an internal focus cue and said they used it. All participants who said they used an external focus cue regardless of what focus group they were randomly assigned were better in balance performance and learning than participants who said they used an internal cue.
Biodex Balance System, External Focus of Attention, Attentional Focus
Date of Defense
March 14, 2006.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Sport Management, Recreation Management, and Physical Education in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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