Improve focus | deal with distractions.
All athletes have the ability to concentrate, but often their focus is displaced on the wrong areas.
They are more concerned about the result of what they are doing rather than how to execute the play properly. An example of this is when a batter thinks “I need to get a hit” while in the batter’s box.
To help this athlete focus on the present moment and let go of results is a step in the right direction. This will improve their ability to focus on executing the play correctly.
How do you go about impressing this on your athletes or for that matter anybody you may be working with?
To maintain your confidence under extreme pressure of the moment you need to have the right focus.
Your Right Focus is:
1. A set of steps under your direct control, and
2. Tactical (strategic, not technical)
When I say ‘under your direct control’, I mean just that it is a process that becomes a habit and allows you body to do what it does best.
It’s a process or repertoire that you can control 100% of the time.
An example of this is that athletes focus on what they can’t control such as:
You can’t control making a shot, winning a point, scoring a goal, or getting a personal best.
If you could control these things, then you would make them happen every time you compete. They are definitely the desired outcomes but if your focus is just on the result of those outcomes you begin a roller coaster of emotions. This can lead to self doubt and fear.
Here’s what is under your control
Preparing yourself to execute the shot.
Watching the ball the second it leaves your opponent’s racquet…
Looking at the ball while you’re swinging your club…
You get the idea. Yes it is the preparation of executing the correct play.
The second thing your right focus must be is strategic.
It’s the opposite of technical.
Most baseball players at the plate think about their weight distribution, the location of their hands, or the turn of their hips.
This is a technical focus. They’re thinking about technique.
Technique will kick in if you know how to get out of your own way. The many hours of practice should have prepared you to be technically ready.
If there is a flaw in this area then some remedial steps need to be taken away from the heat of the game.
Hank Aaron, holder of Major League Baseball records for home runs, never focused on technique in games.
What did Aaron focus on?
“I stayed up thinking about the pitcher I was going to face the next day……my whole pattern of thinking would be: “What is good for Koosman, what works good for Koosman, and how is he going to try and get me out?”
But here’s the key.
Aaron didn’t just THINK about his strategy.
He visualized it. “I used to play every pitcher in my mind before I went to the ballpark…I would start visualizing myself, like I’m standing at the plate, with runners at first and second, or second and third, whichever, how he’s going to pitch me in that given situation.”
Did you notice the simple formula?
Find the Right Focus that works for you.
Then visualize it.
The ability to focus is essential to success.
When you’re in the middle of a practice or competition, does your mind ever wander?
If so, your performance is taking a hit, because you aren’t completely focused on the task at hand.
You can improve your focus by following these tips:
Know what you need to focus on. The clearer you are about what you want to focus on, the more likely you’ll be to stay focused on the factors that contribute to your success.
Many athletes can be distracted by over focusing and then freezing up when it’s time to execute the play. Knowing what to focus on and having a set repertoire can minimize this occurring.
Focus on what you can control. You have control over yourself and your own actions and attitudes — nothing more. Keep your focus here. If you focus on outcomes (things you have no control over), you’re creating unnecessary anxiety. Focus on the process and you increase the likelihood of positive results happening.
Stay relaxed under pressure. When you’re stressed and anxious, your focus drops. Find ways to stay calm in high-pressure situations, such as taking deep breaths, stretching muscles to loosen them, engaging in effective routines to keep your focus where it needs to be, or listening to music that keeps you centered.
Use cue words. Cue words are simple words and phrases that remind you of your focus points. Repeating words and phrases such as relax, play hard, or quick feet will remind you to focus on what you need to do. If your mind is focused on your cue words, your body will follow.
Develop effective routines. A routine is like a funnel — it channels your focus and gets you ready to compete. Your routines help you maintain your focus on the right things and prevent many potential distractions from entering your mind. For example, listen to three or four songs on your iPod before games to get yourself ready, or eat a certain meal, arrive at the playing field in enough time to get prepared, or go through a specific type of warm-up.
Use mental imagery. Practice seeing yourself perform exactly as you want to perform, focusing exactly as you want to focus. The more your train your mind to focus on the right things, the more it will respond. Mental imagery is simply seeing yourself perform as you desire long before you even step on the field of play. Imagery prepares you to see how you’ll perform, trains you to think about what’s most important in great performance, and allows you to relax by being focused on things within your control and that matter to great performance.
Rate your focus daily. Keep a journal in which you rate your level of focus before and after each practice or competition. Simple daily evaluations are critical to improving your focus. By consistently being consciously aware of improving and evaluating your focus, you’ll automatically do so. This type of daily “mental muscle” work will gradually improve your focus in practice and games.
Hope the above tips help you to develop the right focus and deal with distractions to take your game to a whole new level.