Learning to focus your attention in sport is a key skill

Learning to focus your attention in sport is a key skill that not only helps you to perform at your best, but also helps you to focus on the task in hand, so that you can acquire new skills and practice those skills so that they become learned. In this lesson I will look at some strategies to help you remain ‘present’ and focused while also looking at ‘mind wandering’ and how and why to avoid it.

So what exactly is ‘attention’? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2002) in his classic book Flow, refers to attention as being psychic energy. Each person has a limited amount of attention available and a useful way of thinking about it is to “focus it intentionally like a beam of energy” (p. 33). Focused attention can be said to bring order to consciousness. The opposite of psychic energy is psychic entropy where there is disorder in consciousness. In the ski lesson environment, distractions such as fear and anxiety can divert attention to things that are undesirable, moving your thoughts away from the original task or goal, leading to disorder.

Focused attention allows for full engagement of the task in hand. This is an active process that can be improved over time.

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