Butler and Baumeister (1998) suggested that performance decrement of a difficult skill-based task occurring only in the presence of a supportive audience could be explained by "a cautious performance style" (p. 1226). A potential alternative explanation stems from Masters' (1992) contention that skill failure under pressure occurs when performers attempt to control motor performance using explicit knowledge. It was proposed that a skill acquired with minimal metaknowledge (i.e., a limited explicit knowledge base) would remain robust regardless of audience type. To test this hypothesis, a table tennis shot was learned with either a greater or a lesser bank of explicit task knowledge. Performance was subsequently assessed in the presence of observation-only audiences, supportive audiences, and adversarial audiences. Consistent with hypotheses, supportive audiences induced performance decrement in the explicit-learning group only. It was argued that supportive audiences engender higher levels of internally focused attention than do adversarial or observation-only audiences, increasing the chance of disruption to skill execution when performance characteristics involve a large amount of explicit processing.
|Number of pages
|Journal of sport & exercise psychology
|Published - 1 Jan 2003