Increasing the Distance of an External Focus of Attention Enhances Standing Long Jump Performance

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Porter, JM, Anton, PM, and Wu, WFW. Increasing the distance of an external focus of attention enhances standing long jump performance. J Strength Cond Res 26(9): 2389–2393, 2012—Numerous studies have demonstrated that using verbal instructions to direct a performers attention externally (i.e., toward the effect of the movement) significantly enhances motor skill performance. Limited research has also demonstrated that increasing the distance of an external focus relative to the body magnifies the effect of an external focus of attention. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of increasing the distance of an external focus of attention on standing long jump performance. Using a counterbalanced within-participant design, recreationally trained male subjects (n = 35) performed 2 standing long jumps following 3 different sets of verbal instructions (total of 6 jumps; each separated by 1 minute of seated rest). One set of instructions was designed to focus attention externally near the body (EXN); another set of instructions directed attention externally to a target farther from the body (EXF); the last set of instructions served as a control condition (CON) and did not encourage a specific focus of attention. The results indicated that the EXN and EXF conditions elicited jump distances that were significantly greater than the CON condition. In addition, the subjects in the EXF condition jumped significantly farther than those in the EXN condition. These findings suggest that increasing the distance of an external focus of attention, relative to the body, immediately improves standing long jump performance.

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