Children's conscious control propensity moderates the role of attentional focus in motor skill acquisition


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Abstract

We investigated whether conscious control propensity moderates the role of attentional focus in motor skill acquisition of children. The propensity for conscious control of elementary school children was determined using an adapted version of the Movement Specific Reinvestment Scale (MSRS) (Masters, Eves, & Maxwell, 2005). They then practiced a darts task using an internal (focus on limb movements), external (focus on the target) or non-specific focus of attention and performed a transfer test (i.e. 20% increase in distance). After one week, they engaged in a delayed retention test. Results were analyzed using ANOVA with repeated measures. During the initial practice phase, no significant effects were found. However, during the transfer test and delayed retention interactions between conscious control propensity and group emerged, such that children with a high conscious control propensity performed better in the internal focus group and ones with a low propensity did better in the external focus group. These findings suggest children's motor skill acquisition is most effective when instructions align with their personality predispositions.HighlightsRelationship between conscious control propensity and attentional focus in motor acquisition in children is examined.Children with different conscious control propensities in acquiring a motor task with different attentional focus instructions are compared.Children with a high conscious control propensity performed better in a motor task with the internal focus instruction.Children with a low conscious control propensity performed better in a motor task with the external focus instruction.Attentional focus instructions should be align with personality of learners to yield a desirable motor learning outcomes.

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