Focus (Internal Vs. External)

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The reference here is the “Constrained Action Hypothesis” (Gabriella Wulf), which is what I have said before: You can’t concentrate on too many things at once.

Internal Focus is telling your player to focus on their body/arms/legs as they shoot. This is the focusing on too many things. External Focus is telling them to look at a particular point away from their body (eg. the post) and telling them to focus on getting the ball through the hoop, visualising it. This is one focus, allowing the less conscious part of the mind to deal with everything else, which is more possible.

Research suggests External Focus is not only much better than Internal Focus, but better than a simple control of not giving any sort of instruction, other than looking ahead.

Importantly, if doing this, DON’T explain why you’re doing it. If you tell someone NOT to think about their arms, they will find it very hard not to. To demonstrate: Whatever you do, don’t imagine a Gazelle right now. See?

From my own experience, also, you can alter a person’s shot MASSIVELY by altering their focus. I have had multiple experiences of players shooting long or short and then, on being told to change their focus, getting them in regularly. It goes like this:

Find out where a person is regularly going wrong (if so) by watching them shoot – don’t tell them what you’re trying to do. If they shoot long tell them to look at the front of the basket when they shoot. If they shoot short tell them to look at the back of the basket, or look through it to where the back is if it is not visible. If it works, force them to adopt it as their default so it happens naturally in games.