A realistic approach to developing focus and concentration1 Opinion
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
This month I would like to discuss the aspect of focus and concentration to create performance and ultimately success. I’m sure it would prove beneficial to discuss the theoretical frameworks of focus and concentration. Concepts such as internal, external focus, narrow and broad width and even attentional strengths (Weinberg & Gould, 2003). However taking a different approach I would like to try and give a realistic framework for focus and concentration in the form of questions we ask ourselves to attack our daily lives. These questions can add in cultivating honest awareness towards your process and achievement and hopefully, give you some focus and concentration to attack the process.
When it comes to focus and concentration we have many choices in what we spend our conscious effort on. As an example (as discussed by Rasmus Ankersen (2012)) look at our everyday life. From the grocery store to the car dealership, we have many choices which detracts from our focus. I’ll be the first to admit that when I head to the grocery store for one thing, 99% of the time I get distracted and come home with much more then what I intended. Achievement is no different, we have goals set but we make choices to spend time on less meaningful aspects, aspects that may not overwhelm us as much or put us under pressure. Examples include the internet, television or movies.
So with all these choices and the amount of information that is thrown at our athletes it is no wonder why we possibly use a lack of concentration or focus as a means to an insufficient result. In his book The Gold Mine Effect, author Rasmus Ankersen quotes Colm O’ Connell (the Godfather of Kenyan Running) as stating “(we) break an athlete down into atoms. Here is your maximum oxygen uptake, here is your muscle fibre type distribution, over here you can see your pulse, and by the way one of your legs is longer than the other. I think that kind of over analysis destroys an athlete…..If I start making my athletes too aware, I remove their instinctive drive and self-belief” (p. 125).
This quote brings into the picture drive and self-belief. What if we were to ask our athletes certain questions to improve their focus and concentration? Just questions that would trigger the conscious effort towards a task? Would it in return help with their drive and self-belief because they did “answer the bell” when it comes to daily objectives?
It is a generic answer to our problems when we use the focus or concentration quote when aspects go astray. Answers such as “we were not very focussed today” seem to enter our daily lives. This happens, I believe it is impossible to be focussed 100% of the time but with a few questions that we can answer at the start of the day we may be able to get a little more out of ourselves, even if it is just 1% more. Some of these questions could include.
• What is your outcome goal this year?
• How efficient are you, currently in obtaining that goal?
• What has led or impeded you to be on the right track for that goal?
• What are 3 priorities that could help achieve that goal (Skill/Tactical/Technical Priorities)?
• What are you going to do and by when?
In conclusion, with all those choices around us focus and concentration is an ability to make a choice to better ourselves if we want to achieve better performance. Our lives are a cluster of small processes that require our focus and concentration no matter if they are our passion or not, they are our pieces to the puzzle that enhance our ability to achieve.
Ankersen, R. (2012). The Gold Mine Effect, Toronto, ON: HarperCollins.
Weinberg, R.S. & Gould, D. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Champaign, IL:
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Tags:Attentional FocusConcentrationFeaturedFocusPsychology of SportSport PsychologySports Psychology
About Kyle McDonald
Kyle McDonald is owner/operator of Competitive Will, an athlete, coach and business performance development company. Integrating high performance strategies for success.