The Role of Attention, Arousal, and Visual Search in Movement Preparation
A critical factor that influences an individual's available attentional resources at any given time is arousal. Arousal is "a general physiological and psychological activation of the organism that varies on a continuum from deep sleep to intense excitement". To decrease arousal, encourage slow and controlled breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, positive self-talk, visualization, and focusing on performance rather than outcome. The performance environment is teeming with information, some of it relevant and some irrelevant to the impending response. Because attentional capacity appears to be limited, successful performance depends on the performer's ability to attend to meaningful information. When adopting an external focus, the performer attends to information in the environment, such as the opponent, or to movement effects, such as motion of a golf club. A growing body of evidence calls into question the common practice of instructing learners to focus their conscious attention on their own body movements.