You often hear coaches or teammates shout “concentrate”, “focus” or “keep your head in the game” but what do these phrases actually mean?
What is Concentration?
On the pitch, we are always concentrating, however at times we choose to concentrate on things which have a negative effect on performance.
Many players are guilty of what is termed as ‘time travel’ during a game:
Do you ever fall into the trap of focusing on mistakes?
If you allow yourself to be distracted by a previous mistake or play in the game and dwell on it, you are concentrating on past events and subsequently, not what’s currently happening in game.
Do you get caught focusing too far into the future? Do you play the what if game? What if I miss, what if we’re beat? what if I make a mistake?
Focusing on future events also negatively affects concentration.
It’s important to recognise when your concentration lapses and develop methods to help you sway back to being fully immersed in what’s happening in the present moment.
Improving Concentration Excercise
- Step 1 – Draw a vertical line down the middle of a page representing the timeline of a match. Label the left side negative and the right side positive. OR Download, print and fill out our Concentration Curve Worksheet.
- Step 2 – Ask yourself what you notice or what you say to yourself when you are playing well. List these comments on the positive side of the line.
- Step 3 – Repeat for what you notice or say to yourself when you are playing poorly and list on the negative side of the line.
- Step 4 – Draw a curving line (as demonstrated in the example) as your concentration moves from one side to the other.
- Step 5 – Challenge yourself to recognise when you cross the line from positive to negative. Your goal is to develop a strategy to snap out of the negative side and return back over to the positive as quickly as possible.
- Recognise when you have crossed the line
- Use a cue word or trigger to “snap back” across the line
- Control breathing and use eyes to find the ball
- Communicate with or encourage team mate
The most important thing is to recognise when you are on the negative side of the line and “snap back” to the positive as soon as possible.
The video below is used with atheletes to demonstrate the “Next Play Speed” concept of concentration.