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Enhancing performance proficiency at the expert level: Considering the role of 'somaesthetic awareness'

Toner, John; Moran, Aidan


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Dr John Toner
Lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance

Aidan Moran


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Objectives: Traditional theories of motor learning (e.g., Fitts & Posner, 1967), along with certain contemporary psychological perspectives (e.g., Weiss & Reber, 2012; Wulf, 2013), postulate that expert performers must relinquish paying conscious attention to, and/or attempting to exert control over, their bodily movements in order to achieve optimal performance. Challenging such largely unquestioned conceptual approaches, however, is an emerging body of evidence (e.g., see Montero, 2010; Shusterman, 2011) which indicates that 'somatic reflection' (i.e., a conscious focus on bodily movement) is an important mediator of continuous improvement (i.e., the fact that certain performers continue to improve their skills even after becoming experts) at the elite level of sport. The present position paper seeks to elucidate and resolve this apparent paradox concerning the role of bodily awareness in expertise. Design: Literature review and position statement. Method: To achieve this latter aim, we draw on empirical evidence (e.g., from research on somatic attention) and theory (e.g., Shusterman's, 2008, theory of body consciousness) to elucidate the role of bodily awareness in facilitating continuous improvement at the elite level of sport. Results and conclusion: In doing so, we sketch some theoretical and practical implications of Shusterman's (2008, 2011, 2012) theory of 'somaesthetics' for contemporary research on expertise in sport.


Toner, J., & Moran, A. (2015). Enhancing performance proficiency at the expert level: Considering the role of 'somaesthetic awareness'. Psychology of sport and exercise, 16(P1), 110-117.

Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Jul 22, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2015
Journal Psychology of sport and exercise
Print ISSN 1469-0292
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue P1
Pages 110-117
Keywords Expertise, Somaesthetics, Conscious processing
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article which has been published in: Psychology of sport and exercise, 2014, v.16, part 1 at


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