Attentional Focus Strategies to Improve Motor Performance in Older Adults: A Systematic Review

Chen T.T., Chi To Mak, Sheung Mei Shamay Ng, Wai Lung Wong (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Previous literature shows the beneficial effects of an external focus of attention on various sports skills in young adults. The objective of this systematic review is to evaluate the effects of external and internal focus of attention on motor performance in healthy older adults. The literature search was conducted in five electronic databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Scopus, and Web of Science). Eighteen studies that met the inclusion criteria were evaluated. Most of the motor tasks targeting older adults were related to postural control and gait. Over 60% of the included studies reported that the effect of an external focus was superior to that of an internal focus on motor performance in older adults. An external focus generally results in better motor performance than an internal focus among healthy older adults. However, the advantage of an external focus on locomotion may not be as significant as those illustrated in previous attentional focus studies. A challenging cognitive task may allow more automatic motor control than an external focus. Practitioners might provide clear instruction cues guiding performers to divert their attention away from their body and towards the movement effect for better performance, particularly in balancing tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4047
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • attentional focus
  • motor performance
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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