Concentration is the key to athletic excellence and your secret to performing your best at crunch time. To be sure that you focus on the right things at the right times get in the habit of controlling your eyes and ears both before and during performance. Controlling your eyes means that you only want to look at those things that keep you calm, loose and confident. If focusing on another opponent or the size of the crowd gets you uptight, control your eyes by concentrating instead on your stretching, looking at a piece of equipment, looking at the ground, etc. Pick out ahead of time focal points where you can lock your concentration so you won’t get distracted by other visual things. If you watch professional tennis players in between points you can see them controlling their eyes by looking at and fiddling with their strings. Controlling your ears means that you only want to listen to those things that keep you calm, confident and ready to do your best. This is why you see so many athletes listening to music or tapes in between or before their events. Listening to music, for example, will distract you from more stressful conversations going on around you or from negative self-talk going on inside of you. Many athletes like to talk with friends right before they perform because their conversations, which frequently have absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming competition, help distract them from engaging in worry or negative self-talk.


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