Effect of verbal instructions and image size on visual search strategies in basketball free throw shooting.
We assessed the effects on basketball free throw performance of two types of verbal directions with an external attentional focus. Novices (n = 16) were pre-tested on free throw performance and assigned to two groups of similar ability (n = 8 in each). Both groups received verbal instructions with an external focus on either movement dynamics (movement form) or movement effects (e.g. ball trajectory relative to basket). The participants also observed a skilled model performing the task on either a small or large screen monitor, to ascertain the effects of visual presentation mode on task performance. After observation of six videotaped trials, all participants were given a post-test. Visual search patterns were monitored during observation and cross-referenced with performance on the pre- and post-test. Group effects were noted for verbal instructions and image size on visual search strategies and free throw performance. The 'movement effects' group saw a significant improvement in outcome scores between the pre-test and post-test. These results supported evidence that this group spent more viewing time on information outside the body than the 'movement dynamics' group. Image size affected both groups equally with more fixations of shorter duration when viewing the small screen. The results support the benefits of instructions when observing a model with an external focus on movement effects, not dynamics.