Cardiac and respiratory activity and golf putting performance under attentional focus instructions

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Objectives:The purpose of this study was to examine measures of cardiac and respiratory activity when participants at different levels of skill development performed a golf putting task under attentional focus instructions. Putting performance and self-reports of attentional focus were also examined.Design:The mixed factorial designs included group, putting condition, and epoch.Methods:Novice (n = 18), experienced (n = 16), and elite golfers (n = 16) attempted 2.4 m straight putts under a baseline (no instruction) condition and when instructed to focus attention on a process goal, a performance goal, an outcome goal, or to trust the body to perform the skill.Results:Compared to novice golfers, the experienced and elite golfers showed better performance and reduced heart rate (HR), greater heart rate variability (HRV), pronounced HR deceleration prior to the putt, and a greater tendency to exhale prior to the putt. The attentional focus instructions also influenced HR and putting performance.Conclusions:The results show that athletes at different skill levels differ in their performance and focus of attention while performing a motor task.

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