Eklund, R. C., & Dugdale, J. R. (2002). Ironic cognitive processing, task-relevant expertise and static balance performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34(5), Supplement abstract 1199.

Full-time dancers (N = 16) performed a static balance task. Two cognitive conditions were compared; high and low cognitive load. Five 20-s trials with 50-s intertrial rests were performed.

High cognitive load Ss showed poorer performances than those with low load. When Ss attempted to avoid particular erroneous movements, those movements were significantly greater.

Implication. Avoidance thought patterns reduce performance levels even in highly-skilled performers. Athletes should not be instructed to "not make errors". Such instructions are likely to increase error rates rather than reduce them.

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