• 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.

  • 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)