Focus on Focus: Part 2 - Internal and External Focus

Updated: Apr 12

Welcome back to Focus on Focus and the second post in the series where we look at how we can use our attention to excel in endurance sports. Specifically, we will look at what kind of attention it takes to excel in endurance sports, the different classifications of focus, and see how where our focus goes can have a beneficial impact on our performance.

In my last post, we looked at the first layer in focus classifications, Associative and Dissociative focus. In this second edition of ‘Focus on Focus” we will look at the direction of our focus and explore the value of understanding where our focus is placed.

Layer #2 - Internal or External focus

Are you focused on something biological/psychological and something inside your body or are you focused on something mechanical and outside your body?

With this layer of our focus discussion, we start to identify whether we are focusing on something inside ourselves or something outside of us. This classification was first proposed by Nideffer (1976) but was also discussed by Stevinson and Biddle (1998) as the “direction” of the focus (are you directing your focus inward or outward). An inward focus is focus on some kind of internal bodily sensation. This can come in the form of a biological sensation, a pounding heartbeat, burning thighs etc. or it can come as a psychological sensation, a mantra you tell yourself, or an awareness of a cyclical negative thought pattern.