Using a “Think Aloud” protocol to understand meta-attention in club-level golfers

Alex Oliver*, Paul J. McCarthy, Lindsey Burns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
319 Downloads (Pure)


At present, there is only a theoretical understanding of the role of meta-attention in golf and there is no research that studies the real-time cognitive processes that construct meta-attention. Therefore, this study sought to explore the real-time meta-attentional processes experienced by golfers within a performance as this would develop a further understanding of concentration during performance. Seven intermediate level golfers (Handicap M = 14.43) performed over 6 holes using Think Aloud (TA) Level 3. Players’ verbalisations were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and then were subjected to verbal protocol analysis. Analysis revealed several metacognitions, control strategies and game situation thoughts during performance. Attentional metacognitions varied by the shot, however, consistent control routines were used throughout. The insights into meta-attentional processes captured lend support to the theoretical understanding of meta-attention, and show that golfers tended to externalise their attentional focus during performance, additionally golfers frequently focused their attention towards environmental information related to their game situation. The results allow for a further understanding of the higher-order processes of concentration and can be brought forward to further theoretical understanding and shape attention training given to golfers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-793
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date27 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • meta-attention
  • attention-regulation
  • think aloud
  • golf
  • metarecognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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