Links between attention, performance pressure, and movement in skilled motor action

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The attentional focus adopted during the execution of a skilled motor action can have a profound effect on performance outcomes. Furthermore, it has been proposed that an "inward" shift in the focus of attention may be one of the primary causes of "choking under pressure." But how does attention have its effect on performance? In particular, how does changing one's focus of attention change movement during skill execution? Here, I highlight recent research reporting four different types of movement effects that have been linked to attention: movement variability, multi-joint coordination, movement economy, and motor-control strategy. Understanding the effects of attention and pressure at the level of kinematics/muscle activity is crucial for developing a comprehensive theoretical account of skilled motor action. It is also of great practical value as it identifies specific execution errors that can be addressed in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-306
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • action
  • attention
  • kinematics
  • pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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