Advantageous Way of Attention – External or Internal?

There is a way of attention in movement called “external focus”. This idea of “external focus” comes from Gabriele Wulf (Ph D). I have read her book “Attention and Motor Skill Learning” (the translated version). This idea comes from her hypothesis that we will deteriorate our performance (movement quality) if we pay attention to our body movement(internal). So, she recommends that we should stick our attention to an objective of an activity (external).

PhD. Wulf’s hypothesis and “external focus” don’t coincide with the idea of the AT, because we think of our head and neck (internal) during activity in the AT.

I have some opinions and objections regarding “external focus”.

This is not the idea applicable for all people. Those who already have a certain level of good coordination in their use may get better performance with “external focus”. But, those who have poor coordination will not get better performance (or improvement) so much with “external focus”.

Coodination is inside of us, so it is internal. To change it better we need to pay attention to our internal (the head and neck, etc.). “External focus” may help a bit, but this doesn’t help of their original problem (coordination, use) enough. So, the habit of the head back and down won’t diminish by “external focus”. The AT can help them. This is my thought through my experience of lessons.

There is something more. Wulf’s hypothesis is based on some research results. I think that these researches are tricky because of their plan. There is a research of Basketball free throw. The external focus is to keep paying attention to the goal rim while a person does free throw, and the internal focus is to keep paying attention to the wrist movement while a person does free throw in this research. I can easily imagine that those who pay attention to the goal rim would have better result than the ones who pay attention to “the wrist”. That is too micromanagement.

In my opinion it is not external or internal but anything that affect our movement quality that we should paid attention to. There are some important manageable controls inside our body, so we had better manage them by paying attention.

What I think the better way of attention (applicable for more people) is the way we unify the external attention and the internal attention in good combination. In the AT lessons we learn this unified way of attention, which is neither too much internal nor too much external.

And when we pay attention to either external or internal, we had better apply “leading edge”. That’s what I found. Decide an edge to lead and lead it when in movement, and think the muscles and joints will help the movement as if these worked automatically. An edge to be leaded can be a part of the body, or a part of an object which a person carries or touches, or an objective of an activity.

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Paul AokiIf you are interested in my lesson approach, please contact me. There is a form in the linked page, and please contact me through it. Just questions are welcome.

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