The time course of attention during two golf putts of different lengths in a group of experienced golfers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kevin M. Fisher (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jennifer Etnier

Abstract: Previous research using the dual-task paradigm to assess the time course of attention has been conducted with many sport-specific movements, such as a tennis serve, a volleyball set, a horseshoe pitch, and a basketball free-throw. However, this line of research has not been applied to a golf putting stroke which differs from previous sport skills because it requires that participants strike the ball with a club rather than propelling it directly from their hands. In the current study, a dual-task paradigm was used to investigate the time course of attention during two golf putts: one from 6 feet (easy condition) and one from 12 feet (difficult condition). A sample of experienced golfers (N = 20) with a handicap of 17 or less participated in the study. Participants were asked to respond verbally to an auditory tone presented at three probe positions during the two putts. The order of the putts and the presentation of the auditory cue at each probe position were randomized and catch trials were used to prevent anticipatory effects. The first hypothesis of this study stated that the time course of attention would follow a similar pattern for both shots. Specifically, it was hypothesized that attentional demand would be greatest just before the putter contacted the golf ball. The second hypothesis of this study stated that the increased task difficulty of the 12-foot putt would result in greater overall attentional demand during this putt than during the 6-foot putt. The results of a repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) for putting performance indicated no significant differences in the level of performance (p > .05) for probe positions across the short putt. However, a repeated-measures ANOVA for putting performance on the long putt indicated that participants' level of performance changed based on probe position (p < .05). Based on previous research, these findings suggest that the time course of attention cannot be accurately assessed in the long putt; this conclusion is due to a reprioritization of the primary and secondary tasks that is indicated by inconsistency in performance across probe positions. The results of a repeated-measures ANOVA for reaction time during the short putt showed that there were no significant differences in reaction time at each probe position (p > .05), indicating that attentional demand remains constant throughout the putting stroke. The results of a repeated-measures ANOVA for reaction time also indicated that reaction times on the long putt were significantly higher than reaction times for the short putt (p < .05), indicating that the long putt required an overall higher level of attentional demand than the short putt. These findings suggest that experienced golfers demonstrate a constant level of attentional demand throughout the putting stroke on a 6-foot putt. These findings also suggest that experienced golfers were unable to maintain primary task performance on the 12-foot putt and that the 12-foot putt required higher attentional demand than the 6-foot putt as a result of increased task difficulty.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Attention, Dual-Task, Golf, Putting, Task Difficulty, Time Course of Attention
Golf $x Psychological aspects
Putting (Golf) $x Psychological aspects

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