Priming to promote fluent motor skill execution: Exploring attentional demands

The effect of priming on the speed and accuracy of skilled performance and on a probe-reaction time task designed to measure residual attentional capacity, was assessed. Twenty-four skilled soccer players completed a dribbling task under three prime conditions (fluency, skill-focus, and neutral) and a control condition. Results revealed changes in trial completion time and secondary task performance in line with successfully priming autonomous and skill-focused attention. Retention test data for task completion time and probe-reaction time indicated a linear decrease in the priming effect such that the effect was nonsignificant after 30 min. Results provide further support for the efficacy of priming and provide the first evidence of concurrent changes in attentional demands, consistent with promoting or disrupting automatic skill execution.