Concentration is the key to athletic excellence. When you get it right, it will keep you loose and confident and help you take your performance to the next level. However, when you get it wrong, it will undermine your confidence, get you nervous and physically tight, and sabotage your competitive performance.
To develop this key mental toughness skill, start today to regularly practice concentrating like a champion during training.
If you stretch or in other ways warm up before practice officially starts, then work on your concentration during this warm-up period. That is, keep your focus on what you are doing, while you are doing it. If you stretch, do so “with awareness.” That is, concentrate on the feeling of the stretch while you do it. If you’re loosening up by taking a few laps, practice swings, shots or strokes, don’t just mindlessly go through the motions. Focus on the feeling of what you’re doing, WHILE you’re doing it! If your focus drifts while you’re doing this warm up, which it frequently will, then quickly return your focus to what you are doing in the warm-up!
Use this same “recognize and return” skill during your practices. Work on keeping your concentration in the NOW, on what YOU are doing during practice, and every time that you find yourself drifting from these two key focal points, quickly return your focus to them. If you’re doing a drill and make a mistake, leave the mistake in the past and quickly return to the drill in the NOW. If your mind starts focusing on what the coach or others might be thinking about you, then quickly bring your focus back to YOU and what you are doing!
By regularly practicing this kind of concentration in practice, when the heat of competition is turned up high, you will be able to quickly recognize when you lose your focus and immediately bring it back. And this is what CHAMPIONS DO!