To succeed in sports not only does an athlete need to be well prepared physically but also mentally strong. As mentioned in my previous blog, when it comes to mental toughness sports psychologists refer to what is known as the 4C’s. The 4C’s are the main qualities required for success in sports performance. The first of these qualities is concentration.
Concentration- Ones ability to remain focused to the job at hand.
Athletes who have high levels of concentration are proficient in gathering necessary peripheral information such as an opponents movements or the changing environment. These individuals are capable of computing this information, adapting, and applying it successfully to their objective. The pinnacle of mental awareness in the sports arena is to reach a state where conscious thought is not made, rather the athlete reacts on a subconscious level and their performance just flows. This state is often referred to as the “Zone”.
When an athlete lacks concentration they are not able to efficiently or effectively apply their physical abilities to the task. These athletes are easily distracted resulting in a compromised performance. An athletes concentration level can be affected by such internal distractions as: anxiety, fatigue, dwelling on mistakes, or negative thoughts. They can also be distracted by external stimuli such as: coaches, peers, playing surface, or weather.
Each person will react differently to distractions and strategies to improve ones concentration is unique to that individual. While preparing for competition goal setting is one strategy known to help athletes maintain focus. Setting realistic goals will help the athlete focus on specific aspects of their task which will result in better preparation for the overall competition. Reaching these goals will help the athlete to feel more at ease with the task and will develop a level of confidence.
It is believed that developing routines while preparing, competing, and post-competition is a tactic which will help competitors minimize distractions and help to center their focus. The more stability both on and off the practice field will help the athlete’s attentiveness.