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Directing our focus of attention appropriately during task execution can benefit
outcome performance, cognitive efficiency, and physiological efficiency. For
instance, individuals may benefit from adopting an external focus of attention (i.e.,
by focusing attention on the effects of one’s movements on the environment)
over an internal focus of attention (e.g., focusing on one’s body movements).
However, accounts concerning the theoretical functioning of such effects have
primarily relied on hierarchical information processing perspectives; far less
consideration has been given to potentially alternative explanations based on
ecological dynamics, instances where an internal focus may be desirable over an
external focus, and the associated applied implications. Within the present review,
we: (a) outline the most recent developments in attentional focus research;
(b) evaluate similarities and differences between information processing and
ecological dynamics explanations of the focus of attention effect; (c) provide
practical recommendations; and (d) discuss future research avenues. In doing so,
a case is made for an “Ecological Dynamics Account of Attentional Focus” to act
as an alternative to information processing-based hypotheses.


  • sport, attentional focus, movement, cognition, dynamical systems, motor learning
Original languageEnglish
Article number1176635
Number of pages13
Early online date24 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023

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