Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    The effects of avoidant instructions on golf putting proficiency and kinematics
    Objectives. Although the effects of avoidant or negative instructions on skilled performance in sport has received little research attention, de la Pena, Murray, and Janelle (2008) reported recently that novice golfers who were instructed not to leave a putt short of a circle, overcompensated by leaving their putts significantly longer than at baseline, and vice versa. It is unclear, however, whether athletes' propensity to engage in over-compensatory behaviour is affected by their level of expertise. Design. To address this unresolved issue, the present study investigated the influence of avoidant instructions on golfers' putting stroke proficiency (i.e., as measured by an index of putting performance and the direction in which putts are missed) and on their putting stroke performance (as measured by motion analysis). Methods. 14 high-skilled and 14 low-skilled golfers were required to putt from a distance of 2.5 m on a sloped surface which caused the ball to move left-to-right as it approached the hole. All participants performed in a condition in which they were given no instructions and in a condition in which they were instructed not to miss a putt in a specific direction (i.e., left or right of the hole). Results. High-skilled golfers' overall putting proficiency was unaffected by avoidant instructions. In contrast, low-skilled golfers' performance was significantly degraded due to disruption of certain kinematic features of their putting stroke (e.g., putter path and forward-swing times).
      849Scopus© Citations 15
  • Publication
    In praise of conscious awareness: a new framework for the investigation of 'continuous improvement' in expert athletes
    (Frontiers, 2014-07) ;
    A key postulate of traditional theories of motor skill-learning (e.g., Fitts and Posner, 1967; Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977) is that expert performance is largely automatic in nature and tends to deteriorate when the performer 'reinvests' in, or attempts to exert conscious control over, proceduralized movements (Masters and Maxwell, 2008). This postulate is challenged, however, by recent empirical evidence (e.g., Nyberg, in press; Geeves et al., 2014) which shows that conscious cognitive activity plays a key role in facilitating further improvement amongst expert sports performers and musicians – people who have already achieved elite status (Toner and Moran, in press). This evidence suggests that expert performers in motor domains (e.g., sport, music) can strategically deploy conscious attention to alternate between different modes of bodily awareness (reflective and pre-reflective) during performance. Extrapolating from this phenomenon, the current paper considers how a novel theoretical approach (adapted from Sutton et al., 2011) could help researchers to elucidate some of the cognitive mechanisms mediating continuous improvement amongst expert performers.
    Scopus© Citations 41  204
  • Publication
    The perils of automaticity
    (American Psychological Association, 2015-12) ; ;
    Classical theories of skill acquisition propose that automatization (i.e., performance requires progressively less attention as experience is acquired) is a defining characteristic of expertise in a variety of domains (e.g., Fitts & Posner, 1967). Automaticity is believed to enhance smooth and efficient skill execution by allowing performers to focus on strategic elements of performance rather than on the mechanical details that govern task implementation (see Williams & Ford, 2008). By contrast, conscious processing (i.e., paying conscious attention to one’s action during motor execution) has been found to disrupt skilled movement and performance proficiency (e.g., Beilock & Carr, 2001). On the basis of this evidence, researchers have tended to extol the virtues of automaticity. However, few researchers have considered the wide range of empirical evidence which indicates that highly automated behaviours can, on occasion, lead to a series of errors that may prove deleterious to skilled performance. Therefore, the purpose of the current paper is to highlight the perils, rather than the virtues, of automaticity. We draw on Reason’s (1990) classification scheme of everyday errors to show how an over-reliance on automated procedures may lead to three specific performance errors (i.e., mistakes, slips and lapses) in a variety of skill domains (e.g., sport, dance, music). We conclude by arguing that skilled performance requires the dynamic interplay of automatic processing and conscious processing in order to avoid performance errors and to meet the contextually-contingent demands that characterise competitive environments in a range of skill domains.
    Scopus© Citations 18  520
  • Publication
    On the importance of critical thinking: a response to Wulf's (2015) commentary
    (Elsevier, 2016-01) ;
    In a recent paper (Toner & Moran, 2015), we argued that continued improvement among elite athletes requires alternation between external and internal foci of attention. In her commentary on this paper, Wulf (2015) claims that we have misunderstood the 'attentional focus' effect. Our rejoinder has three objectives. Firstly, we critically evaluate Wulf’s arguments and counter her false allegations and spurious reasoning. Secondly, we explain our concerns about certain aspects of attentional focusing research. Finally, we propose that in order to explore the dynamic nature of attentional focusing, we need to go beyond restrictive theoretical dichotomies (e.g., 'internal' versus 'external' processes) using new approaches.
    Scopus© Citations 5  865