The „external focus“ is essential in a modern and evidence-based skill learning. There are many posts in this blog about this subject.
This morning I was sitting at the breakfast in a hotel in Leipzig. I listened to the instructions of a mother to her perhaps eight years old son. He carried an up to the edge filled glass of orange juice from the breakfast bar to his seat. Trying not to spill the juice, he went always more slowly.
His mothers advice was: „Watch the glass“. What happened was, that hand and glass were wobbling more and more. This was something I remembered from a short phase of working in a restaurant (a long time ago 😉 )and bringing full trays to the guests.
Focused on my body, on my hand, my arms and the full tray (internal focus) I made it wobble more and more. What I learned from this was, that it is better to choose an „external focus“ like the next table or a picture at the wall. This worked not always, but significantly more often.
Years later, in my research for coaching sports skills, and after reading Gabriele Wulfs studies about the external focus I understood.
So experience meets theory and theory meets practice.
„Children’s learning of tennis skills is facilitated by external focus instructions“