So focus and concentration is something we’ve had to work hard at the past few years. There are so many distractions which give us lots of reasons – if not excuses – to loose focus.
Concentration is an emotional tool for being and performing at your best. Taking concentration down to basics, it is the ability to focus your attention on the task currently at hand – therefore not being disturbed or ‘affected’ by external and internal stimuli. Indeed, Nideffer & Sagal (2001) argue that “concentration is often the deciding factor in athletic competition”.
The normal condition of the mind is chaos. There are so many random thoughts, sensations and perceptions competing at the same time for attention. Concentration, then, is the effort required to turn the chaos into some kind of reasonable order. One thing separates outstanding individuals with equal levels of ability, such as in sports:
“The power to concentrate and focus on the task at hand.”
So let’s discuss what we actually need higher levels of concentration and focus for. It allows people to:
- outperform opponents who have superior physical and mental abilities 2. Consistently perform at higher levels in their lives
- work’ smarter’–not just harder
- succeed and win when it matters most
External stimuli that can affect an individual when trying to focus include:
- negative noises such as booing or hissing
- generally unpredictable behaviour from others
Internal stimuli can include:
- negative thoughts and feelings such as “I blew it”, “I am not good enough”
- distracting body sensations
Failure to deploy effective concentration skills have caused the downfall of many athletes and of course anyone studying, taking exams or just carrying out their daily tasks. Indeed Cox (2003) pointed out that few areas in sports psychology are as important as the area of concentration and attention.
Concentration also means being firmly locked in the present, not five years in the future or last month. When our minds drift into anywhere but the present, our performance suffers. Concentration is a skill and like any skill, can be improved with the input of time and practice, added to patience.
Symptoms of low amounts of focus & concentration
So there’s a really obvious answer to that – you can’t focus or concentrate at full capacity which means that you can’t perform at your highest level or even sustain levels of performance.
Because of that you may start having low mood, a lot of negative thoughts and start to slip of where you want to be and what you want to be doing.
There’s some obvious effects of having low focus and concentration which lead to greater problems and frustrations.
As you’d expect, if you can’t focus, it’s a lot harder to plan and reach goals which can leave us confused and demotivated. In turn, that really affects our anxiety and stress because we may feel like we aren’t achieving and we’re completely off kilt. The feelings that low mood can produce can really affect us in so many areas of performance by hitting our self-esteem and confidence levels which can also affect our relationships and complete outlook on life.
There’s some great tools and skills to help with your focus and concentration that we are about to teach you. Don’t forget that in our other courses and modules, we’ve talked about how nutrition and mindfulness can really help. We’ll go through a number of elements here but make sure you check out our specific materials on nutrition and mindfulness!
Improving your general wellbeing is at the heart of many ways to improve your focus and concentration:
- Nutrition – eating the right foods can really impact your ability to focus
- Meditation – helping you to focus on the present
- Positive self-talk – helping to improve your self-confidence
- Peak performance – being at your very best and giving your all
- Visualisation – imagining the very best version of yourself
- Goal setting – planning out what you’re aiming for and why you need to be focused
- Vision boards – seeing where focus and concentration will get you
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of our secrets with you for how to make the most out of the tools, in anticipation of our highly anticipated release coming very shortly!
TLA (Train Like an Athlete) is a performance psychology movement funded by Sir Richard Branson’s not-for-profit company; Virgin StartUp. TLA provides advice on guidance on becoming the very best version of yourself and thriving from life’s daily struggles, all based on proven sports psychology techniques.
TLA was founded by Rachel Moan, a Chartered Surveyor, Writer, nutritional therapist and former professional dancer. Rachel is passionate about giving people across the world the skills to aim higher than ever before and support people in reaching their ultimate potential. As a passion junkie, time hacker and rebel, Rachel’s love of business, travelling and professional background brings affordable, innovative and accessible peak performance techniques to the world.