Focused and Divided Attention in Sports

In most sports, there are situations in which an athlete would need to use focused attention and when that same athlete would need to use divided attention.

Both are helpful to athletes and both can be detrimental to athletes.  Let’s look a the example of a soccer player.

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Focused Attention

A soccer player would use focused attention is when taking a penalty kick.

Focused attention is important when an athlete needs to limit interfering distractions.  It would be detrimental for the athlete to attend to other stimuli at this time because the stimuli (sounds of cheering fans, his teammates, waving flags) would only distract him from efficient performance at this moment in the game.

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Divided Attention

The same athlete would need to use divided attention when he needs to perform more than one task at the same time.

Being able to divide attention efficiently is helpful when the same soccer player is dribbling down the field, sees an opponent approaching him, and needs to pass the ball.

At this time, focused attention would be detrimental because the soccer player needs to handle these many tasks at once and cannot let any one slip.  He needs to hear and see his teammates, be aware of the offense, and dribble.

Learning how to shift your attention can be an important part of your sport performance.  Work with Summit Performance Consulting LLC to improve your mental game.  Contact us at 561-325-8363 or at

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