Sports and refocusing
Refocus and Mental Toughness
While all mental skills have their challenges, refocusing is one that definitely stands out. I would say that the ability to refocus is the second most difficult skill for mental toughness second only to confidence. Confidence greatly impacts our ability to refocus, and the ability to refocus greatly impacts the other skills. If you can’t refocus once your focus has strayed, it doesn’t matter how much motivation you have or how good you are with making decisions. You can have all the motivation in the world but if it’s not directed at the right thing then it doesn’t matter. The ability to refocus comes down to how flexible ones mind is, and how well you are aware of when you mind wanders. The mind needs to be flexible enough to move from one thing to another. You also then need the right strategy or process in place to bring your focus back once it has strayed.
There are so many distractions in this world and it is making the skill of refocusing that much harder but also a more valuable skill to have. Technology makes it easy to get distracted and keep being distracted and this is then teaching our minds to look for distraction even when technology is not around. The more you can learn to focus on one thing at a time the better, but it is also important to be able to be aware of when you are distracted and bring yourself back to what the task is in front of you. On top of distractions our emotions also play a role in the difficulty of refocusing. When we get distracted often what keeps us distracted are emotions, such as anger, anxiety, fear and concern or worry. It is important to understand what keeps you distracted and work on the source of those emotions so that you can have a better ability to bring yourself back once you are distracted.
Here is a good starting process to help with refocus:
Fudge: First, there is a good chance when you make a mistake because you are not focusing appropriately you will have an emotional response. It is okay to have a reaction, but then you need to let it go. The next two steps will help.
Fix it: Once a mistake has been made, one of the best things to do, if you have the time, is to visualize how you wanted it to go. This helps you correct the mistake, without getting into overthinking, and also gives you an additional mental rep of the skill set.
Forget it: Letting go and moving on to what you need to focus on next comes in this step. You need to now bring yourself to the here and now, and think about what keys or cue words you can quickly focus on to help you execute the next play. Depending on the sport you play, this will look different, as each sport provides different amounts of time. It can be simple in nature, such as move feet, or get low, get back on defense.
Make your process your own, the above outline is just that, an outline. It gives you an idea of the process you need to go through. Most people get stuck on the first step, or try and fix things through thinking, getting their focus even more thrown off. There is no right or wrong process, just the process that works for you, so you can let go, and refocus.
Beyond the above process, another great way to get better at refocusing is through mindfulness. It teaches awareness and an ability to practice brining your thoughts and mind back to a vocal point. Like any skill, the more you practice the better.
To your success,
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Mindfulness Certification
TAIS Assessment Certified