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Improve your concentration

3 April, 2013 | Written by Recuperat-ion Recuperat-ion

“I learned to eliminate all
unnecessary thoughts when I’m on the track. I simply concentrate. I concentrate
on tangible things, on the track, on the race, on the tips, on what I should
do. The crowd fades, the other athletes disappear and it is all about me and
this single corridor. “(Michael Johnson, Olympic champion in the 200 and
400m).

On many occasions, athletes attribute their poor performance to a lack
of concentration or tension produced by certain situations during exercise.
Often, this problem does not only refer to a lack of physical ability, but also
to a lack of competencies / psychological abilities.
One of these psychological abilities necessary for the performance is a
good concentration. This ability is not innate and can therefore be worked and
improved. This article will discuss the importance of concentration and propose
some techniques to maximize our level of concentration.
Concentration: definition
The concentration is the ability to maintain attention to relevant
environmental signals. It is a process by which uninteresting information is
rejected and only the elements related to the exercise are perceived.
Why concentration is so important
in sport?
Sport requires a good deal of concentration, but our concentration is
not always good. There are various circumstances or situations, both internal
and external that can affect it.
Staying focused is essential for athletic performance because it can
make a difference. Elite athletes are in fact recognized for their ability to
concentrate.
It is not always easy for an athlete to choose the right moment and stimuli
to concentrate. Athletes sometimes have difficulty to maintain concentration
over a long period of time, and they often fail to focus their attention on one
thing while ignoring the rest.
Each sport, based on its characteristics, requires a specific
concentration, and it is important to identify such need in order to prepare
accordingly.
 How can we improve our concentration?
“I was not thinking about
the world record. When I go to a race thinking about the clock, it ruins
everything, so I was thinking only about my departure while trying to relax. I
just had to limit myself to my immediate duty. “(Donovan Bailey, Olympic
champion in the 100 meters)
To improve our concentration, we must learn to dominate certain
techniques, including:
1. Set goals. Objectives
affect the performance and influence the effort, perseverance, motivation and
development strategies. Set your goals before the season, it will help you focus
from the start on what you really want, and increase your concentration
generally.
2. Prepare yourself properly. If you prepare yourself carefully, you will
most likely meet your goal. Anticipate potential problems and obstacles in
order to find alternatives. This will allow you to limit problems during the
race.


3. Visual control. This is an effective method to keep focus on
what is important in our sport performance. Our eyes, like our mind, tend to
capture everything that surrounds us, and sometimes they focus on variables
that are not related to performance (public calls, opponents behavior…). This
implies a risk to deviate from our goals. Our eyes should be limited to signals
that matter: those that allow us to focus on our performance. Simply try to fix
the ground or a particular point.



4. Use of keywords. They are generally used to trigger a specific
response in athletes. The keywords can be used as an instruction (bow the knees,
watch the ball, stretch the arms,…) or as a warning (this is good, resist, more
…). The trick lies in the choice of simple words that automatically generate
the desired response. These keywords are not universal; you can choose them
yourself and adapt them to your goals.



5. Concentration on the moment. Our mind tends to dwell on past mistakes, or
to remember what we have never done before. Sometimes, however, it turns to the
future to determine, for example, how to end the competition. Attention
problems arise when we disperse ourselves in the past or in the future. Again,
the use of keyword helps us return at the present moment during the effort.



6. Establish a routine. This strategy can help the athlete maintain
and increase his/her concentration. The routine is a positive behavior that the
athlete will repeat in a systematic way in order to integrate it mechanically
in his/her practice. This can be a form of warm up, nutrition, or action
(bounce the ball several times before the tennis serve, for example) that allow
us to have landmarks.


7. Focus on what depends on us. Many times we want to control the world around
us and it makes us feel insecure and doubtful … It is impossible to control
everything. Focus on what depends on you (preparation, goals…). So you gain
confidence with a greater sense of control and increased concentration.
Conclusions
Concentration is vital for anyone who wants to optimize his/her athletic
performance. This article has taken some of the methods used by sport
psychologists to work on and increase the concentration.
When an athlete suffers from a concentration problem, it is advisable to
assess the causes and propose an action plan to solve it. In addition, an
athlete who wants to improve his/her concentration can always identify the
points to optimize.
A sports psychologist can help you in a personalized way to determine
your level of concentration and develop techniques and strategies for
improvement.
Article by: Meritxell Bellatriu. Sport psychologist. Col n ° 13811

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