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The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers

The Goal of the Research

The objective of the study was to examine the impact of attentional focus on the swimming speed of professional swimmers (Stoate & Wulf, 2011).

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How the Goal Relates to My Research

The authors report that an external focus targeted at the movement augments automaticity compared to an internal focus (or the lack of any focus) (Stoate & Wulf, 2011). Reaction times have a motor component (Mohammadabad & Shahbazi, 2017). It can be hypothesized that factors that enhance attentional focus are likely to have a positive influence on motor skills and ultimately reaction times. Therefore, there is a need to investigate the impact of attentional focus on the swimming velocity of professional swimmers.

Summary

The subjects received external and internal focus instructions involving the arm stroke in crawl swimming. It was observed that the control and external focus conditions resulted in similar swim times, whereas an internal focus yielded slower swim times. The study concluded that an internal focus impedes performance and that controlled movements at an advanced skill level do not require external focus instructions.

How Attentional Focus Affects Central (Brain or Neural) Information Processing

Attention is believed to be established through local changes in neural gain (Eldar, Cohen, & Niv, 2013). It is conjectured that large-scale fluxes in neural gain regulate the magnitude of attention as well as the extent to which processing focuses on environmental attributes that an individual is exposed to. The emotional content of audiovisual narratives is known to alter attention. For example, an increase in suspense lowers the activity of the peripheral visual processing regions, which increases the activity of central visual processing regions as well as the frontal and parietal regions enlisted for attention (Bezdek et al., 2015).

How Attentional Focus Affects Muscle Activity (EMGs)

A person’s focus of attention can have a significant impact on the acquisition and performance of motor skills. Instructions that prompt an external focus on the anticipated movement are more likely to elicit effective movements than those stimulating an internal focus (Mohammadabad & Shahbazi, 2017). For example, balance tasks that focus a subject’s attention on the supporting surface instead of the subject’s feet are reported to boost balance. This observation is evident in sport skills such as golf, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and darts. These effects are also evident in healthy adults and children as well as elderly populations with Parkinson’s disease. These observations are attributed to the fact that an external focus favors automaticity in movement control. Conversely, focusing on the movements themselves limits the motor system because the subject tries to wield conscious control over their movements. Employing different focus influences electromyographic (EMG) amplitude and contraction duration (Calatayud et al., 2017). For example, Calatayud et al. (2017) report that a controlled speed state boosted pectoralis normalized EMG (nEMG) by 6% and the triceps muscles nEMG by 4% as opposed to a regular focus state. Using different focuses did not affect the nEMG during the explosive speed condition. Therefore, using internal focus to augment EMG amplitude is only effective under a controlled speed.

References

Bezdek, M. A., Gerrig, R. J., Wenzel, W. G., Shin, J., Revill, K. P., & Schumacher, E. H. (2015). Neural evidence that suspense narrows attentional focus. Neuroscience, 303, 338-345.

Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Colado, J. C., & Andersen, L. L. (2017). Influence of different attentional focus on EMG amplitude and contraction duration during the bench press at different speeds. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(10), 1162-1166.

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Eldar, E., Cohen, J. D., & Niv, Y. (2013). The effects of neural gain on attention and learning. Nature Neuroscience, 16(8), 1146-1153.

Kuhn, Y. A., Keller, M., Ruffieux, J., & Taube, W. (2017). Adopting an external focus of attention alters intracortical inhibition within the primary motor cortex. Acta Physiologica, 220(2), 289-299.

Mohammadabad, M. S., & Shahbazi, S. (2017). Effectiveness of perceptual–motor training on reaction time and anticipation children with hyperactivity disorder / attention deficit. Der Pharmacia Lettre, 9(2), 38-47.

Stoate, I., & Wulf, G. (2011). Does the attentional focus adopted by swimmers affect their performance? International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 6(1), 99-108.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 1). The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 1). The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers. https://studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/

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"The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers." StudyCorgi, 1 Jan. 2022, studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/.

1. StudyCorgi. "The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers." January 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/.


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StudyCorgi. "The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers." January 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers." January 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-impact-of-attentional-focus-on-the-swimming-speed-of-professional-swimmers/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Impact of Attentional Focus on the Swimming Speed of Professional Swimmers'. 1 January.

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