Document Type : Research Paper I Open Access I Released under CC BY-NC 4.0 license


1 . MSc, Department of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Motor Behavior, Department of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Assistant Professor of Motor Behavior, Department of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of external focus of attention instruction and autonomy support on learning of an aiming task in mentally retarded children. Therefore, 48 children (age range: 10-14 years, mean age 11.81+1.2 years) were selected from all mentally retarded children of Ahvaz city by convenient sampling method. Participants performed 10 trials as a pretest and according to their scores of the pretest, they were assigned to four groups: external attention, autonomy support, external attention-autonomy support and control. The task consisted of throwing 100-gram beanbags into a goal that was mounted at a distance of 2 meters from the participants on the wall. Participants performed 40 trials including 5 blocks, 8 trials each block in the acquisition phase. 10 minutes after the last acquisition block, the participants performed 10 trials as the posttest. 48 hours after the acquisition phase, retention test (10 trials) was performed to examine the learning effects of the participants under the same conditions as the pretest. The data were analyzed by mix ANOVA 2×2×5 in the acquisition phase and two-way ANOVA 2×2 in the retention phase with SPSS22 at significance level of P≤0.05. The results showed that all four groups had a significant improvement in their performance during the practice blocks. The external attention+autonomy support group gained the best scores in the acquisition phase (P≤0.05). The external attention+ autonomy support group presented the greatest performance in the retention test (P≤0.05). Therefore, it is suggested that a combination of autonomy support and external attention should be used to improve the performance and learning of aiming in mentally retarded children.


1.   Schmidt RA, Wrisberg CA. Motor learning and performance: A situation-based learning approach: Human kinetics; 2008.
2.   Valyan B SM, SH D. The Effect of Using Luvous Therapy on Reducing Cognitive Problems of 7-12 Year Old Mentally Retarded Boys in Welfare centers of Tehran 4th district. Journal of education and training. Journal of education and training. 2011;105:3-11. [In Persian]
3.   Isanejad A, Parno A, Kazemin A, Eslami R, Piri S, Hoseini A. The Effect of Regular Physical Activity on Changes of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Intelligence Quotient and Motor Development of Mental Retardation Children’s %J Motor Behavior. 2017;9(28):109-28. [In Persian]
4.   Ellis NR. Memory processes in retardates and normals. International review of research in mental retardation. 4: Elsevier; 1970. p. 1-32.
5.   Golubović Š, Maksimović J, Golubović B, Glumbić NJRidd. Effects of exercise on physical fitness in children with intellectual disability. 2012;33(2):608-14.
6.   Robinson HB, Robinson NM. mentally retarded child. 1976.
7.   Moss S, Hogg JJRqfe, sport. Observation and classification of prehension in preschool children: a reliability study. 1981;52(2):273-7.
8.   Ramazaninegad R. The growth and development of bodilymovement. Ghilan: University Press; 2000. [In Persian]
9.   Rezaiyan A, Mohammadi E, Fallah PAJIjonp. Effect of computer game intervention on the attention capacity of mentally retarded children. 2007;13(5):284-8. [In Persian]
10. Frey G, Chow BJIjoo. Relationship between BMI, physical fitness, and motor skills in youth with mild intellectual disabilities. 2006;30(5):861-7.
11. Lotan M, Isakov E, Kessel S, Merrick JJTswj. Physical fitness and functional ability of children with intellectual disability: Effects of a short-term daily treadmill intervention. 2004;4:449-57.
12. Halle JW, Gabler-Halle D, Chung YBJMr. Effects of a peer-mediated aerobic conditioning program on fitness levels of youth with mental retardation: two systematic replications. 1999;37(6):435-48.
13. Yiusefiesfahani a, shahrokh karam s. Study of effective domains in planning, development of physical education and sports of Mentally Retarded children and students. . Journal of education and training of mental disordered people 2008;7(75).
14. Bahrami A, Chalongariyan N, Kordi H. Physical education in schools. Expanse the computer publisher. 2010. [In Persian]
15. Yektamaram S, Soltanimoradi R. How to interact with people with disabilities. Welfare Organization of the country, Deputy of Cultural Affairs and Prevention. 2010. [In Persian]
16. Wulf G, Lewthwaite RJPb, review. Optimizing performance through intrinsic motivation and attention for learning: The OPTIMAL theory of motor learning. 2016;23(5):1382-414.
17. Wulf G, McNevin N, Shea CHJTQJoEPSA. The automaticity of complex motor skill learning as a function of attentional focus. 2001;54(4):1143-54.
18. Lotfi M, Dehghanizadeh J, Hoseini F. The Effect of Internal and External Focus of Attention on Acquisition, Retention and Transfer of Dart Throwing in Mentally Retarded Children. Journal of Development and Motor Learning. 2016;7(4):511-27. [In Persian]
19. Shahriyari M, Bazooband S, Shetab Booshehri SN. The Effects of Instructions Attention Focus Internal and External on Learning Protection Dynamic Balance in Children with Mental Retardation %J Motor Behavior. 2016;8(24):95-110. [In Persian]
20. Abdollahipour R, Nieto MP, Psotta R, Wulf GJPoS, Exercise. External focus of attention and autonomy support have additive benefits for motor performance in children. 2017;32:17-24.
21. Wulf G, Raupach M, Pfeiffer FJRQfE, Sport. Self-controlled observational practice enhances learning. 2005;76(1):107-11.
22. Hartman JMJP, skills m. Self-controlled use of a perceived physical assistance device during a balancing task. 2007;104(3):1005-16.
23. Janelle CM, Barba DA, Frehlich SG, Tennant LK, Cauraugh JHJRqfe, sport. Maximizing performance feedback effectiveness through videotape replay and a self-controlled learning environment. 1997;68(4):269-79.
24. Wulf G, Chiviacowsky S, Drews RJHMS. External focus and autonomy support: Two important factors in motor learning have additive benefits. 2015;40:176-84.
25. Chiviacowsky S, Wulf G, Ávila LJJoIDR. An external focus of attention enhances motor learning in children with intellectual disabilities. 2013;57(7):627-34.
26. Sanli EA, Patterson JT, Bray SR, Lee TDJFip. Understanding self-controlled motor learning protocols through the self-determination theory. 2013;3:611.
27. Kal E, van der Kamp J, Houdijk HJHMS. External attentional focus enhances movement automatization: A comprehensive test of the constrained action hypothesis. 2013;32(4):527-39.
28. Zolfagharzadeh J. The Effect of Attention and Autonomy on Retention and Transfer of Darting Skill. Thesis for the Degree of Master Science in Physical Edication (Motor Behaviour),University of Allameh Tabatabai, . 2015.
29. Masters RS, Maxwell JP. Implicit motor learning, reinvestment and movement disruption: What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Skill acquisition in sport: Routledge; 2004. p. 231-52.
30. Wulf G, Freitas HE, Tandy RDJPoS, Exercise. Choosing to exercise more: Small choices increase exercise engagement. 2014;15(3):268-71.
31. Deci EL, Ryan RMJCpPc. Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. 2008;49(3):182.
32. Leotti LA, Delgado MRJPs. The inherent reward of choice. 2011;22(10):1310-8.
33. Mousavi Smr, Bina S, Zandieh A, Abedanzadeh R. The Effectiveness of Autonomy Support and Enhancing Expediencies on Motor Learning in the Elderly Women %J Aging Psychology. 2019;5(3):229-38.
34. Schalock RL, Borthwick-Duffy SA, Bradley VJ, Buntinx WH, Coulter DL, Craig EM, et al. Intellectual disability: Definition, classification, and systems of supports: ERIC; 2010.
35. Emond Pelletier J, Joussemet MJJoARiID. The benefits of supporting the autonomy of individuals with mild intellectual disabilities: An experimental study. 2017;30(5):830-46.