As a human being, you are constantly thinking. Thoughts flow through your mind at approximately one thought per second. As thoughts stream through your mind, some simply float through and pass by. Others stay and take up residency in your head. They become all you can think about as all of your attention is directed towards them. This doesn’t change during sport performance, but in sport, directed attention is more commonly referred to as “Focus”.
There are countless thoughts that may enter athletes’ minds as they perform. As an athlete you might have thoughts about the technical execution of your skills, the size of the crowd watching, the opponent you are facing, the setting and environment, the referees or judges, the importance of the game or competition, the outcome of your last performance, or how pumped up or nervous you feel. The list could go on forever. Not all of the thoughts that flow through your mind are helpful to your performance. In fact, some can be incredibly harmful. Helpful or harmful, the thought that gets the most attention is your focus.
Often times you may not even be aware that you are focusing on something that is destructive to your performance, so the first step in controlling your focus is to be conscious of where you direct your attention during athletic performance. If you are aware of where your focus is, you must then ask yourself whether that focus is helpful or not. If the answer is no, the next step is to deliberately shift your focus to something that will be helpful. If you direct your attention towards a thought that is helpful, you will experience a more positive and desirable outcome. Shift into focus and optimize performance!