HMMR Podcast Episode 237: Attentional focus (with Kevin Becker)

A succesful coach doesn’t just know the sport, they can communicate it. That often means helping athletes focus their attention in the right way on the right things. This is thought of as the art of coaching, but there is a science behind the art. Kevin Becker is a leading researcher in the area and our latest HMMR Classroom lesson explains the science of cueing, feedback, focus, and more. He joins this week’s podcast to give an introduction to the topic.

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Notes and quotes

Kevin Becker, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology at Texas Woman’s University. His primary areas of expertise are in motor behavior and sport psychology. His research examines factors that either promote or inhibit motor learning and performance.

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 2:15 – Examples of cues in our own coaching
  • 8:15 – Different perspectives and different focus.
  • 12:30 – Explaining internal vs. external focus.
  • 15:00 – Finding a place for internal focus: “How can I improve somebody’s technique without talking about what needs to change in their body? That’s probably a reaction for a lot of coaches when they hear about external focus. Are there certain situations where an internal focus might make sense?”
  • 18:30 – What the athlete thinks vs what the coach thinks: “I can give instruction, but then what’s really critical is what is the athlete actually thinking about once they go and take the attempt. I could even give externally focused instruction, but the athlete might interpret that into internally focused attention.”
  • 20:00 – Holistic focus: “As opposed to internal or external focus, we’ve defined holistic focus as focusing on the general feeling of the movement or focusing on the sensations that maybe arise from completing the movement.”
  • 28:00 – Finding flow: “Flow is kind of the white whale. It would be awesome if we could be in flow every single throw we ever took. The reality is that just isn’t possible. 90% of the time that we’re not in a flow experience. You need to have a plan and effective focus strategy for the times that we’re not.”

To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further reading