With the Olympics getting underway, maybe you’ve tuned in to watch some amazing athletic feats from afar. If so, you’ll likely hear about the long, grueling training that Olympians go through, strengthening their bodies and practicing their sports for years or even decades.

Sport scientist Gabriele Wulf has researched a surprising way these competitors might gain an edge, and it has nothing to do with extra reps at the gym. Instead, it’s about what they choose to focus on. She’s found that if athletes are able to stop consciously thinking about what their bodies are doing – focusing instead on an external goal – they’ll do better. Instead of concentrating on their muscles producing force on an oar, for instance, they think about water being pulled back. And while an Olympic performance is not in the cards for many of us, the advantage of switching from an internal to an external focus can be harnessed by anyone in everyday life.

This week we also liked articles about what happens to children who migrate to the U.S. by themselves, why you might get cybersickness from staring at screens and white people taking credit for dance steps first created by people of color.

Maggie Villiger

Senior Science + Technology Editor

Athletes’ game-time concentration is legendary – but what should they be focusing on? Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images

A winning edge for the Olympics and everyday life: Focusing on what you’re trying to accomplish rather than what’s going on with your body

Gabriele Wulf, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

A researcher who studies physical skills explains how getting your conscious thoughts out of the way lets your body do what it knows how to do, better.

Recent space flights by multi-billionaires highlight the extreme economic inequality in America. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Why Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Whitey on the Moon’ still feels relevant today

A.D. Carson, University of Virginia

In 1970, Gil Scott-Heron penned a spoken word song called 'Whitey on the Moon' that criticized the 1969 Moon landing. A hip-hop scholar explains why the song still reverberates today.

Unaccompanied immigrant minors wait for Border Patrol processing after they crossed the Rio Grande into Roma, Texas, April 29, 2021. John Moore/Getty Images

This is what happens to child migrants found alone at the border, from the moment they cross into the US until age 18

Randi Mandelbaum, Rutgers University

A record 95,079 child migrants had arrived alone at the US's southern border by July this year. The US is legally responsible for these children, but it is struggling to give them adequate care.