Every one gets distracted. Research has shown that no one, in any circumstance can sustain concentration and focus for the entire time. Distractions will be apart of the equation. Whether that is from your own thoughts or something in your environment. Top performers are no different than any other athlete, in terms of if they get distracted. The difference in how they handle distractions is apart of the equation that helps them to reach the top.
So how do top performers handle distractions? Their mindset around distractions, is seeing them as signals to get back on track, rather than seeing them as bad, or getting frustrated, or thinking they can't focus. If you were driving on a road, and you heard that sound when your tires start to go over the ruts that indicate you are getting close to the edge of the road, you don't freak out, or get frustrated or keep pointing your car in the direction you are going. You simply turn the steering wheel and get back between the lines, and continue down the road.
It is good to get indications we may be off track, if we didn't then we wouldn't know, and would just keep doing what we are doing. It is an opportunity to gain awareness and adjust. Nothing you do will go perfectly and nothing you do will not happen without some form of distraction. It is why you need to train yourself for it, so that when it does happen you can gently bring yourself back to what you need to be focusing on. A lot of the time we make things worse by judging ourselves or criticizing ourselves. Just as a street sign gives an indication to stop, or turn or slow down, our distractions are similar. Just notice the sign, and adjust.
One of the ways we can help build the skill to refocus and do so more efficiently and effectively is through mindfulness mediation. Research shows this is one of the best ways to train attention, and to notice our inner dimension, and thoughts, and when we are getting off track. So when you are in the middle of the game and you notice you need to adjust how you are focusing, if you have front loaded the skills and done the "pushups" for your mind, you can become better at bringing yourself back to the present moment. That is one of the most important skills to have as an athlete, the ability to stay present and refocus back to it. There are other times for thinking and reflection, but in the middle of competition, your ability to perform comes down to how well can you be focused on the present moment.
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Mindfulness Certification
TAIS Assessment Certified