Benefits of external focus instructions on the learning of a balance task in children of different ages

Fábio Saraiva Flôres, Fábio Saraiva Flôres and Suzete Chiviacowsky

Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil

Studies have shown that adult’s motor learning can be enhanced by directing the learner’s attention to the effects of their movements on the environment (external focus), rather than on their body (internal focus). The objective of the present study was to investigate if this effect can be generalized to 6- and 10-year-old children while learning a balance task. In each age group, four groups were given different instructions inducing: a distal external, proximal external, internal or no specific instructions regarding attentional focus (control group) before they began practicing. The task involved participants to ride a Pedalo. One day after practice transfer tests were conducted, in order to evaluate learning. The findings showed that both external focus conditions resulted in faster movement times than internal focus and control conditions, regardless age. The findings demonstrate that instructions inducing external focus of attention can enhance the learning of balance tasks in children.

Keywords: Attention, Balance, Infancy, Motor Learning