Major factor for how an athlete can perform at their best when it matters most
For how an athlete can perform at their best, it comes down to many different factors, however, there is one thing that no matter how good someone is at the other mental skills if this one thing is missing they will not be able to perform at their best. This skill is focus. Focus is key in any given moment. If you are not focusing on the right thing at the right moment you will under perform, no matter how skilled you are. Therefore being able to focus appropriately is key.
Many people understand that focus is important but don’t really do anything to train it or make it a better skill. If you are not actively doing something to train your focus, you are not getting the most out of it. It is like any other skill. The more you train it the better it becomes, the more reliable it becomes and the more consistently you will have it at your disposal. If you don’t you are leaving it up to chance. Some athletes might also think it is good enough, or one day it will be good another okay, and that is fine for them. I always find it interesting that many athletes are not satisfied with their physical skills and relentlessly work at improving them, even for marginal gains, but do nothing for their focus. And yet, this mental skill can impact whether or not the physical skills you have been working on, you can fully display when you need to.
So how do you train focus? There are a few ways you can train focus. One is via cognitive sports training another way is through mindfulness. I have gone in depth into these two areas before and the links to the video and blog on them will give you more information than in this post.
The key for focusing is staying present in the moment, this is what both approaches to training focus take, and with any form of training you do that should be a primary focus, how can you stay in the present better. If you have a lot of negative self talk, or ruminate on mistakes easily then this is definitely a must. Any time we are focusing on the past or future we are not in the present. Any time we are thinking about something in our mind during sports when we should be reading and reacting we are not fully present in the moment. Sports happen in the outside world, not in our heads. In order to pick up all the information you need to perform at your best, you need to focus on all the important pieces of information and for most sports that is occurring in your environment.
If you want to reach your full potential and be the athlete you know you can be then it is a must for you to train your focus.