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.
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.
- This episode is brought to you by HMMR Plus. Become a member for full access to our videos, articles, and podcast archives. This month’s site communication and coaching. Stay tuned for more on the topic.
- You can find the full video lesson in the HMMR Classroom where Becker looks more at attentional focus, optimal feedback strategies, constraints in training, and more.
- You can read more research from Becker on his ResearchGate page. He is also currently accepting applications for masters and PhD students interested in motor learning. You can also learn more about him on his faculty bio and in his interview on the Perception Action Podcast.
- Visit our motor learning topic overview page for more on motor learning, including many articles and videos about Frans Bosch’s approach to motor learning.
- We also referenced some resources on throwing that show how cues might look in actions, including Video Lesson 17: Rotational throwing progressions, our interview with Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, and our article on cue staleness.