Tag Archive for 'Focus'

Concentration Of Focus

I just presented sports psychology principles to squash players at Vancouver’s prestigious Jericho Tennis Club. One of the many excellent questions asked was “With all the books available on the subject, how do you know what to ‘listen’ to as good versus bad advice to avoid confusion”

First, you need a framework to work with – a set of guiding principles that you believe in and that you KNOW work for you. Consider them the corners of a puzzle. One example of a guiding principle is “Positive self talk”, another is “Having an outcome or goal for your performance of development”.

Puzzle Pieces - FrameworkWithin those guiding principles, you start to read and assemble the pieces of the puzzle IF THEY ARE CONGRUENT within the “four corners”.

For example, in squash, there are two schools of thought: (1) you should always try to hit the ball with your FRONT foot in front of you, versus (2) ‘back footing” the ball in certain circumstances.

You need to PICK which one YOU believe works for YOU, then discard, ignore the contradictory suggestions. You MUST make sure you coach(es) are aware of this so they don’t give you conflicting directions!

Dabblers – people who read anything and listen to everyone’s suggestions get quickly confused and dissipate their focus to their detriment they are interested in superficial knowledge.

Knowledge is deep when it concerns the central ideas of a topic or discipline, which are judged to be crucial to it. Deep knowledge involves establishing relatively complex connections to those central concepts. Thin knowledge is shallow or superficial when it is not connected with significant concepts or central ideas of a topic or discipline and is dealt with only in a simplistic or procedural fashion. Knowledge is also shallow when important, central ideas have been trivialised and simplified to an extreme.

It is acknowledged that information and knowledge is extensive and wide-ranging. There is a balance to be achieved between trying to know everything about everything (A Jack of all trades) versus “everything about one thing” (a specialist).

Admittedly, this is not an easy concept to grasp. It’s a skill and aptitude that I developed over 10+ years when I was also confused by all the conflicting information I was reading in all the books I read. (I am a speed reader and have read over 1,000 business books and over 100 on mental toughness and sports psychology alone).

Here are some steps you can start to use to CONCENTRATE YOUR FOCUS when it comes to your learning and development.

  1. Establish your guiding principles (the 4 corners of the puzzle)
  2. When something new “comes up” – determine if it fits “withing the puzzle”. I suggest you  stick to what you are doing until someone gives you a COMPELLING reason to consider switching.
  3. If it sounds promising (in that you think it could help or assist you to achieve your goals or outcomes), then give that option a MINIMAL assessment and if that MINIMAL assessment provides a positive outcome only then should you consider it. Otherwise, I ignore it.
  4. Most people assess, evaluate to death each and every idea they hear about and most turn out NOT to be worth it. By NOT getting distracted, your concentration of FOCUS will increase instead of dissipating. It’s hard to explain, but if it does not serve you to ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL, don’t let the distraction “in” – if you do ADD it to your arsenal, it has to ADD to your EXISTING framework of strategies. It needs to “FIT INTO” the puzzle so-to-speak if it doesn’t, discard it and wait for the next one – WHICH WILL COME AROUND.

The best advice I can give you is to make sure you have a coach or mentor to assist you in your quest. There is no better way to achieve your ultimate outcome.

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Games are won or lost mentally or technically

I recently presented mental toughness strategies at the East Coast Squash Academy‘s Adult Squash camp organised by squash professional Aaron Frankcomb at Willoughby Squash Club in Sydney. Attended by a wide range of squash players, it became quite obvious that squash is a very demanding sport physically and technically where attention to stroke execution, shot selection and court movement can provide beneficial results.

Many players readily admit the mental side of the game is something they struggle with, in large part because they don’t know much about it and also because once they do learn about it, implementation is a very personal thing.

The first step in adopting what I call the Mindset Of A Champion is the admission that games are won or lost either technically or mentally.

Once that has been realised, then a player can start to self-assess him/herself on both dimensions.

Determining which one will yield the quickest result is simple.

Think back to your most recent match. How many points did you lose because of mental lapses (choking, nervousness, poor shot selection, going for a winner when under pressure, missing a shot you can easily make, tinning ‘easy’ shots, etc.) versus technical errors (poor racket preparation, no follow through, incorrect contact point, improper racket head speed, hitting the ball off-centre ball on the strings, etc.)

Chances are, quantum leaps are available to you with mental toughness training.

The benefit of mental toughness training is that it is often EASIER and QUICKER to improve mentally than it is physically. Technical improvements can take weeks and months to become natural within your “muscle memory” whereas mental strategies can have an IMMEDIATE impact as of your next game, match or tournament.

The first step is for you to determine how many mental mistakes you are making, as a percentage of the points you are losing…

Do that and stay tuned for future blog posts that will start to lay the groundwork for mental toughness within the context of the Mindset Of A Champion.

Not sure how to determine if a point was lost mentally or technically? Here is an example from this year’s 2014 Australian Open Tennis Championship. The last 2 points played by Novak Djokovic… that cost him the match in the fifth set.

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Now THIS Is Patience, Balance And Control

This YouTube video exemplifies what all athletes seek – master of one’s self with absolute patience, balance and self control.

This is a stage performance, but the lesson rings loud and clear for all those seeking peak performance in their chosen sport.

Provided, compliments of Karen Crawford.

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Clear The Mechanism

This is a classic and says it all – “Clear The Mechanism” might not be catchy, but when you can do this, YOU are in TOTAL control, unstoppable, in the zone, the flow… At your ultimate very best. Learn to clear YOUR mechanism and watch what happens to your performance.

I recently competed at the 2009 World Masters Championships and ‘ALMOST’ had this mastered, but not quite – I know it’s one of my Next Best Steps to (excuse the pun) focus on. With bad refereeing (not biased, but just plain bad) this ability is paramount.

A friend who is a champion plays every point without distraction – like a ‘robot’ – totally in control. THAT is SELF MASTERY. That is the Mindset Of A Champion. This video is what I use to get into the ‘ZONE’.

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