Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the separate and combined effects of the external focus of attention and autonomy support on learning a targeting task, according to OPTIMAL theory of motor learning.
Methodology: 60 female students were randomly assigned into 4 groups of 15 participants in each group including external focus - autonomy support (provided a choice about the place of throwing along with a focus on target); external focus (focus on target); autonomy support (provided a choice about the location of throwing); and a control (without attentional instruction). The research motor task was a controlling throw of a coin with a dominant hand on targets placed on the ground consisting of ten concentric circles. Participants in a 2 * 2 design, (focus externally: Yes/No) (autonomy-support: Yes/No) completed the acquisition phase consisting of 60 trials. Retention test using with 2 hours and 24 hours' delay, were performed.
Results: The analysis of variance revealed that the main effect of external focus (p=0.38) and the interaction effects of external focus and autonomy support (p=0.69) are not significant. The main effect of autonomy support is significant (p=0.002). Participants in autonomy support groups performed better than those without autonomy support in retention phase.
Conclusion: Overall, these findings suggest that the autonomy support separately and without the combination of external focus affects the learning of a targeting motor skill.