Sports focus is the ability to pay attention to relevant aspects of the game, like the next pitch, while ignoring uncontrollable factors, like a hostile crowd. Sounds easy, right? Although the concept of sports focus is basic, our human emotions complicate things in the heat of competition, making crunch time focus a difficult skill to master.
Focus is often the difference between good and great athletes. If you’re able to quickly let go of the bad things and refocus on immediate goals, you’ll become the clutch player your team is looking for. Develop the skill of mental focus by following the three tips below.
Rather than just letting "stuff happen" before games, develop a pre-game routine to take control of your preparation. It should help you get game-ready by focusing both your emotions (cultivating a positive attitude) and your thoughts (thinking about the things you need to do to help your team win). Your routine might include reviewing goals, using imagery to "see" the plays you want to make, or writing a cue word or acronym on your hand to help you focus. For example, "PHT" could stand for "play hard today." The little things you do to prepare your mind before a game can pay off big time in the fourth quarter.
Create a reminder to draw your focus back to the game, something you can use whenever you feel your attention drifting away from things that matter. For example, you might wear a rubber band on your wrist and give yourself a quick snap every time you catch yourself dwelling on the last bad play.
After a game has ended, analyze your mistakes and ask yourself whether poor focus played a part in them. The goal isn’t to make yourself feel bad about losing focus; it's to help you identify what caused it, and to figure out how to prevent it from happening again.
Mental focus is a skill that you won’t learn overnight. Start changing your habits with these three tips, however, and you’ll learn how to do all the little things that lead to a championship.