Improving Focus

Many athletes ask about focus and getting in “the zone.”  Getting in the zone means being in the moment, and being in the moment means that you are not thinking about what’s happened in the past, and you are not worried about what’s going to happen in the future.


Attention is a limited mental resource.  Limited attentional capacity is the notion that attention is limited to at most a few activities at a time.  In competition, things happen that require a fair amount of adjustment and so we’re constantly pulled out of the zone

Distractions may be internal, such as overthinking your technique, or external, such as comments from the fans or the weather.  Many athletes spend 80% of their mental energy on uncontrollables.  To improve focus, athletes need to minimize distractions and make deliberate choices to be in the right zone.

How do we prepare for these distractions?

Practice the unexpected things.  

Don’t just play on a sunny day with supportive people when you’re feeling well.  You’re rarely, if ever, 100%.

Practice many possible scenarios that may occur during competition. Being familiar with potential scenarios will eliminate distracting thoughts and help you just play your game.  Consider distractions and prepare for them.

soccer foot on ball

Decide when to focus [and when to let your attention waver] and create a cue to shift focus.  For example, a baseball player may have a warm-up routine or a mantra that he repeats to himself before going up to bat.  A soccer player may have a routine before hitting a penalty kick

Practice on the proper technique during every single repetition.

Don’t just go through the motions.  Over-learn your technique so you compete on autopilot.

Baseball bat

If you have a  pre-game routine, practice it each time.  – It doesn’t help if you only do it in competition.  For example, the baseball player should go through the same warm-up routine before going up to bat both in practice and in competition.

Acclimate yourself to the competition site.

Being familiar with the site will help to minimize anxiety and distractions.  Get comfortable with during your pre-game routine.

We are only really in the zone 10-20% of the time. The rest of the time we really have to work at it.  So, it is important that you decide when to shift your focus and practice managing distractions.  Practice re-focusing.  The goal is to focus on those aspects of competition within our control.

Work on your mental game with Summit Performance Consulting LLC and improve your performance.  Contact us for more information at or 561-325-8363.

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