An athlete centered approach to developing focus cues

Kevin Becker, University of Tennessee, USA
Jeffrey Fairbrother, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Program ID: WKSP-05

Presentation: October 2, 2013 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Room: Melrose


It is well established that an athlete’s focus of attention can significantly impact the outcome of a performance (Williams, Nideffer, Wilson, Sagal, & Peper, 2011; Orlick, 2008). Many high level athletes report successfully using specific focus cues during performance. It is important for consultants to understand why a cue works and how they can help athletes identify effective cues. Motor learning research has identified advantages of different types of focus cues, namely an external over an internal focus (Wulf, 2007), and an analogy over an explicit focus (Masters, 2001). A limitation of this research, however, is that the cues are prescribed arbitrarily and do not take into account athlete preference. For consultants, the motor learning research can be helpful in understanding cues, but it is just as important to help athletes find cues that work best for them. This workshop will focus on the consultant’s role in guiding athletes toward optimal focus cues. We will first present several focus cues used by high level athletes and assess how they compare with recommendations from motor learning research. Then, we will share the recommendations of several experienced consultants on methods they use with athletes to identify effective cues. Finally, through both large and small group discussions, we will provide an opportunity for attendees to develop a plan for guiding athletes through cue development. A handout with a summary of the information presented will be shared to aid attendees in this process.

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