• Garrett Lucash is a United States pairs figure skating champion (2005), 3-time World Championships competitor, and now a full-time coach in Boston (https://scboston.org/staff/boston-coaches/garrett-lucash/). Garrett successfully uses external focus instructions: “For several years I have been a complete external focus instructor – and I can tell you that this approach makes a huge difference over long term retention!!!” As the video demonstrates, Garrett also provides autonomy support and enhances performance expectancies. Thus, in his coaching, he incorporates all the essential ingredients for OPTIMAL learning!


  • Perception & Action Podcast by Rob Gray: Interview of Gabriele Wulf and Rebecca Lewthwaite on the OPTIMAL theory.

  • The Routledge International Handbook of Golf Science was published in October, 2017. It includes a chapter on how the learning of golf skills can be enhanced based on principles discussed in the OPTIMAL theory:

Wulf, G., Orr, S., & Chauvel, G. (2017). Optimizing golf skill learning. In M. Toms (Ed.), The Routledge International Handbook of Golf Science. London: Routledge.


  • Kuhn, Y.-A., Keller, M., Ruffieux, J., & Taube. W. (2016). Adopting an external focus of attention alters intracortical inhibition within the primary motor cortex. Acta Physiologica, doi: 10.1111/apha.12807

This is an important study by Yves-Alain Kuhn and colleagues. They used an isometric finger abduction task (30% of maximal force) and measured time to failure with an external or internal focus of attention. They also examined activity of the motor cortex (M1). Both time to failure and intracortical inhibition were increased with an external focus (EF). “Our data shed new light on the ability to instantly modulate the activity of inhibitory circuits within M1 by changing the type of attentional focus. The increased inhibition with EF might contribute to the better movement efficiency, which is generally associated with focusing externally” (Abstract): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27653020/

  • Clare Guss-West is a renowned ballet teaching artist and choreographer. Clare systematically applies external focus cues in her work with the Finnish National Ballet, Ballet de L’Opera du Rhin, Opera de Paris-Opera Université, The Royal Academy of Dance, or L’Ecole Superieure de Danse Cannes et Marseille. Clare says, “an integrated external focus approach to training and performance promotes an immediate, palpable global movement cohesion in professionals, beginners and elderly dancers alike.” — Here is an example of Clare Guss-West’s approach from a workshop with people who have multiple sclerosis. She uses images such as wheat grass, lavender, or suns rays to promote an external focus of attention. From: “Dance for All – Dance for MS” hosted by Dutch National Ballet, Amsterdam and The Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation.


  • A survey of professional ballet dancers (Guss-West & Wulf, 2016) showed that they do not always adopt an optimal attentional focus.
  • Steven Orr (stevenorrcoaching.com), PGA Master Professional, has had remarkable success with improving the movement form of novice and skilled golfers by using external focus cues. Here is an example of how a single instruction (“Focus on hitting the ground just after the ball”), given to a novice golfer, can immediately improve not only the ball strike but the whole motion. The instruction resulted in a shorter backswing, and the player improved the consistency of his strike considerably.


  • Karl Morris, Golf Today: A lesson in learning

  • Kit Fox, Men’s Fitness: Here’s how to improve your form by changing your focus

  • Small choices can enhance the performance of (professional) athletes. For example, letting boxers choose the order of different maximal effort punches (lead straight, rear straight, lead hook & rear hook) delivered to a punching integrator significantly enhanced punching velocity and impact forces: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27465395.  The video below shows professional boxer and Australian champion David Toussaint using the punching integrator.
  • Halperin, I., Chapman, D. W., Martina, D. T., & Abbiss, C. (2016). The effects of attentional focus instructions on punching velocity and impact forces among trained combat athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1175651

This is an interesting study by Israel Halperin and his colleagues. It shows how competitive boxers can easily increase the impact forces and speed of their punches by a simple shift in attentional focus: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27088370

  • Sports Coach UK (Interview at “Creating a Skills Revolution” seminar, Harvest Fields Centre, Sutton Coldfield, UK, July 9, 2015)

  • Arizona Sidelines Coaching Blog: Game Changer … (Interview)