The Effect of Attentional Instruction on Table Tennis Players' Performance under Pressure

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PHD Student of Motor Behavior, Physical Education Faculty, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Motor Behavior, Physical Education Faculty, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of pressure and
attentional instruction on table tennis players' performance. For this purpose, 16
table tennis players were tested in 4 conditions with different attentional
instructions and pressure conditions. The test included a table tennis task: the ball
color signified the target where the ball had to be hit and the player had to perform
topspin drive against backspin balls that were thrown by the machine. Attentional
instructions were different in task-irrelevant and task-relevant cues. Pressure
conditions were manipulated through a competitive ranking and money prize.
Participants' performances were assessed through accuracy in hitting definite
targets and verbal reaction time to attentional instructions. Data were analyzed by
two-factorial ANOVA with repeated measures for each variable. The results
showed no significant difference in performance in different phases of the test
(P>0.5). The only significant difference was related to the main effect of pressure
on verbal reaction time, that is to say verbal reaction time increased under higher
pressure (P<0.5). In total, the results indicated that under pressure, regardless of
the type of attentional instruction, performance efficiency decreased.


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