In sport, there are many distractions. An athlete can be distracted by the fact that they’re playing a team that is historically “better than them,” by the opponent’s fans (hearing boos and cheers), or by negative comments from the opponent. Regardless of the source, distractions can lead to penalties, performance mistakes, missed plays, or even lack of communication on the field/court. It’s important for athletes to practice strategies that will help them be better equipped to deal with this type of mental interference.
The Challenges of Concentrating
In sport competition, coaches often stress upon players to stay focused for an entire competitive event (which at times can last several hours, such as football, tennis, soccer, basketball), and the difference between winning and losing in close competitions often comes down to a brief lapse in concentration. In a strength and conditioning setting, a loss in focus could produce less than desired results or it could even result in injury if the athlete becomes distracted during rigorous activity such as olympic lifting, or lifting for power.
The issue is that the mind likes to wander, thinking about things such as homework or an argument with a teammate rather than the task at hand, so it is difficult to remain focused. In essence, people have what experts call limited channel capacity in that they can only hold a certain limited amount of information in their mind at one time. For example, part of the reason phone numbers are 7 digits long is because typically people can only remember about 7 discrete pieces of information without forgetting important portions of it.
Because the mind has a limited capacity, what it pays attention to is extremely important. Paying attention to relevant or appropriate cues and eliminating inappropriate cues is critical for high-level performance.
Performers who are mentally tough are usually skilled at controlling what they focus on as well as what they don’t focus on. Mentally tough performers also have the ability to maintain and sometimes regain an appropriate focus when it is seriously threatened. Furthermore, they can control their focus of attention and change it when necessary.
If an athlete improves their concentration, they will improve their ability to:
- focus on one’s own performance when experiencing off-the-court/field issues
- maintain focus after both success and failure
- recover from unexpected, uncontrollable, and unusual events
- ignore typical distractions in the performance environment
- focus on one’s own performance instead of being concerned with an opponent’s performance
Athletes looking to become mentally tough and to improve their concentration can do so by practicing meditation. The Resilient Mindset series on YAX Online is a great place to get started!
Resilient Mindset Series
With this series, athletes will learn to be comfortable with change and struggle, train their minds to be mentally tough, and develop the ability to keep their cool and make intelligent decisions in difficult times.
We recommend doing one video per day for 10 days. Each video is 20 minutes long.
The Benefits of Meditation
We get it. Meditation can be really challenging! It’s especially tough for athletes that are used to always being on the move and putting in a ton of physical work. Practicing mental work (including sitting in stillness and quiet) may feel harder than a sweaty workout, but that’s exactly why you need it!
Meditation is used to identify distractions, cultivate mental toughness, and improve focus when needed most.
- Increase focus
- Improve mental control
- Improve emotional control
- Calm the nervous system
- Visualize success
- Overcome fear
- Decrease stress
- Improve sleep
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve athletic performance
Check out all the meditation videos on YAX Online!
YAX Online Membership FAQs
What is included in membership?
Membership includes access to all of our recovery content including yoga, breathwork, meditation, mobility/SMR, and cool-downs. The Jump Training Program is available for an additional cost.
What is the difference between the subscriptions (Monthly, 6-Month, Yearly)?
Savings! If you are an individual athlete, or parent of an athlete, you can save 18% with the 6-Month plan or 25% with the Yearly plan. Get started with a 7-day free trial.
Can I sign my whole team up?
Yes, we have discounts available for teams! If you are a coach or club director get a quote on team pricing to get started.
Not a YAX Online member yet? Get started with a free trial!