What You Say Matters! How External Cuing Can Help Your Athletes.

I recently attended a conference and listened to a lecture on cuing (what you tell your athletes to get them to perform the task ahead of them). The speaker, Nick Winkelman of EXOS, talked to us about external verses internal cuing and how it could help our athletes to improve. We were presented with multiple studies, and one after another they showed that external cuing produce better performance results than internal cuing. So now you are probably wondering, what is the difference between the two? Why is one better than the other?

External cuing involves using external objects, like the ground, a ball, a bar, etc. as a focal point. Internal cuing involves using body parts and muscles as the focal point of the movement. As I stated above, studies have begun to show that external cuing produces better results than internal cuing. Here is why they believe this deviation occurs. Using an external focus allows an athlete’s motor system to organize itself naturally without being restrained by a conscious attempt to control their movements. In short they focus more on the goal rather than what each body part needs to be doing to accomplish that goal. Especially with youth athlete’s this stands true because their efforts to manage their own thoughts and emotions may be so demanding that their attention capacity is exceeded and they are unable to perform to their best ability.

We can implement this in to our team practices and training sessions using a variety of different phrases depending on the sport and the athlete. External cues often use analogies (feel like…), metaphors (be like…), external objects near by, and action words (spring, bounce, explode, etc.). Here are some examples:

For Sprinting:    “push the ground behind you”

“drive through the floor”

“back elbow to the sky”

Jumping: “Explode off the ground”

                                                                      “Feel like your floating”

“Reach for the sky”

Changing direction:

“Push away from the ground”

“lean under the roof”

In conclusion external cues are a great way to switch up your coaching methods to help your athletes accomplish their goals! This doesn’t mean don’t use internal cuing, you can still use both depending on what your athlete or athletes respond too!

If you have any questions about external and internal cues please email me at Brigwaltney@championsquest.com.  If you would like your athlete to come try out a free clinic and what kind of cues work for them please fill out the guest pass form above. See you soon!

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