Laser-like focus is something that all champions in sport have. A strong mental focus gives an athlete a winning edge. If you don’t have laser-like focus, don’t worry. Mental focus, as with fitness, can be trained. Here are 5 tips to train your attention and improve your focus.
What? Self-talk? Yes, self-talk. The internal monolog set in motion during sport has a powerful influence on performance. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that positive self-talk increased the time to exhaustion.
That is surprising. To put it in other words, the signals our bodies use to determine when we’ve had enough are complicated. That is, it is not determined solely by our muscles. It is also determined subjectively by our brains. Pick a mantra. For example, you can use “smooth and strong” or “feeling good” and repeat it at regular intervals during a workout or competition to help tap into your last bit of energy that you need.
Do “five more”
According to Daniel Goleman, the author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, a test of an athlete’s concentration ability will predict the following season’s performance. Athletes must build mental circuitry just as they lift weights in the gym to get stronger.
Work through frustration, stretch your limits and build your mental stamina by asking yourself to do ”five more.” This can be five more minutes of concentrated effort at the end of a hard workout. Or, five more reps. Perhaps five more minutes on a challenging task. That’s up to you. The goal is to train your attention and enhance your power of concentration.
Find open awareness
Another kind of focus achieved through meditation is known as open awareness. The brain circuitry that manages attention and opens awareness is the same circuitry that is responsible for managing distressing emotions. Bringing your mind back to a state of open awareness as other thoughts intrude will train your brain to ignore negative cues as well as setbacks that can occur during the performance.
The right fuel will enhance your ability to focus. In regular doses, caffeine and sugar keep your brain fueled and able to focus. In fact, caffeine may be the only effective and legal performance-enhancing supplement in endurance sports. It acts as a stimulant. Thus, resulting in feelings of alertness and pleasure. Not only that, it also decreases the brain’s perception of physical exhaustion. Make sure that you keep your brain sharp and properly fueled.
Embrace the challenge
The best competitors love the fight as much as they love the finish. Focus on how tough you are when you’re faced with a challenge. Visualize how you’ll embrace the opportunity to fight the good fight as well as how you’ll handle any setback. Indeed. Knowing that the difficult stretches make the accomplishment all the more satisfying.
As we’ve said earlier:
Work through frustration, stretch your limits and build your mental stamina by asking yourself to do ”five more.”