Both a holistic and external focus of attention enhance the learning of a badminton short serve
Attentional focus research consistently demonstrates a benefit of an external focus relative to an internal focus. However, this dichotomous comparison may oversimplify the variety of attentional focus strategies a learner uses when acquiring a motor skill. Recent research suggests a holistic focus of attention provides a similar benefit over an internal focus in performing a standing long jump, but the generalizability of this effect is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine how an internal (IF), external (EF), and holistic focus (HF) and control condition impact the learning of a badminton short serve. Novice participants (N = 60) were randomly assigned to IF, EF, HF, or control groups. They practiced the badminton short serve for 150 trials over 5 days and completed retention and transfer tests 48-h post-acquisition. Serve accuracy was analyzed in separate repeated-measures ANOVAs for acquisition and pretest/retention/transfer. All groups improved accuracy through acquisition with the HF group serving more accurately than the IF and control groups. In retention, the HF and EF group served more accurately than the control group, and in transfer, the HF group was more accurate than the IF and control groups. The present findings suggest a benefit of both a holistic and external focus in the learning of an accuracy-based task.