Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

David Sherwood


Previous research has shown that focusing externally (outside the body) leads to better motor performance than focusing internally (within the body), yet many coaches and other instructors continue to use internal cues to teach. This is the first study to use electromyography (EMG) to assess the distance effect, to examine the benefit of a distal external focus of attention beyond a target, and to test the constrained action hypothesis in a stationary, dynamic task. People who did not have much experience in martial arts kicked a force bag while EMG was recorded using different verbally cued foci of attention. The differences in the force-accuracy measure (F-A) and cocontraction between conditions were not significant. Cocontraction and F-A were negatively correlated in the distal external focus condition, but positively correlated in the internal focus condition. These findings suggest that cocontraction may be beneficial in certain circumstances, but not in others.