The impact of focus of attention on elite level curling rock draw delivery


Application of focus of attention theory (FOA) to accuracy-oriented sports has shown performance improvements but has not been investigated in curling. The present study investigated if FOA application to in-turn and out-turn draws can aid in the performance of draws among elite Canadian curlers (ECC). Right-handed ECC (N=11; 4 female, Mage=27.23, SDage=4.56) threw in-turn and out-turn draws with control, external and internal focus instructions. Dependent variables measured include end-point accuracy (constant error [CE], absolute constant error [ACE], radial error, and variable error), hog-to-hog time, time-on-line, velocity and acceleration. Questionnaires asked focus strategies and focus feedback. Performance data was analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with Tukey's Honestly Significant Difference post-hoc test. Thematic analyses were conducted on questionnaires. Pairwise comparisons revealed that control in-turn draws (CID) (M=-55.8, SD=152) had significantly lower: 1) CE scores (t[9]=-2.2830, p=0.048) than internal focus in-turn draws (IFID) (M=-221cm, SD=222cm). CID (M=143cm, SD=87.4cm); and 2) had significantly lower Radial error scores (t[9]=-3.205, p=0.011) than IFID (M=263cm, SD=177cm). A significant main effect for focus F(2,18)=3.7497, p=0.044, n2p=0.294 on ACE score was observed. Pairwise comparisons revealed that CID (M=117cm, SD=108cm) had significantly lower ACE scores (t(9)=-2.8405, p=0.019) than IFID (M=242cm, SD=120cm). Thematic analysis revealed the importance of "touch" and blended focus utilization. Typical benefits of external focus cues applied in research do not appear congruent with ECC rock delivery. Although, a purely internal focus had detrimental effects on their accuracy supporting the constrained action hypothesis. Focus strategies described by ECC indicate the importance of shifting attentional foci throughout the delivery.