Action-effect principle

Action-effect principle (Focus Attention on the Movement Effects Rather Than Just the Movement)

Traditionally, coaches have the athlete focus on the internal movement of skills. For example, feedback statements such as “keep your elbows locked “or “reach and snap” have been the standard performance cues used for teaching the basic skills of volleyball. While such statements focus on the movement action rather than the effects of the movement, the motor learning research suggeststhat focusing on the external effects of movement also has a positive effect on skill acquisition. As volleyball coaches, we should explore the effectiveness of using more external focus of attention when instructing our athletes. For example, when teaching the basic overhand serve, instead of cues such as “keep your elbow high; step forward with the opposite foot, and reach and make contact,” shift the focus to the external effects and see the results. External focus cues might include “see the ball up, step towards the target”, or “hand to ball to the serving zone.” When providing feedback for the basic pass, teaching cues such as “keep the ball low” or “see the pass to the target” might be added with “thumbs together and lock elbows” or “lift with the legs.” An external focus enables the performer not to concentrate so much on the movement itself, but rather on the effect or outcome of the movement and is effective. Coaches always desire to enhance the performance of their athletes. Information from various disciplines such as motor learning can help assist the coach with this process.

My own comments:

When practicing your chosen skill you could apply this PML by shifting from internal to external focus and assess whether the principle was effective. As pointed by Denny (2010), by focusing on external features of the performance learners will pay less attention to the movement itself. This is especially helpful when the learners are moving from the cognitive to the associative state of learning. When reading the content of chapter 12 (Magill & Anderson, 2017), you will realize that learners entering the Fitts and Posner second stage of learning (associative) will focus less and less on the specific movements needed to perform a given skill.

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