One of the most common challenges that athletes face is maintaining focus. High-performance athletes know that they have to stay focused, but the question is, focused on what specifically? Competitions are an ocean of distraction for the untrained and/or the uninitiated and it can be very easy to become focused on things that don’t enhance performance. This is particularly true for younger athletes. Focus and distraction are interesting dynamics that take place within the mind. Sometimes, in order to perform at their peak, athletes need to distract themselves by focusing on particular strategies that may, in themselves, have no real value. The trick of course, is to come up with focus and distraction strategies that enhance each other, maintain inner equilibrium and resilience, thereby enhancing performance.
The workshop started with a reflective process that got the athletes thinking about previous competitions that didn’t go well, where their thinking and behaviours were not ideal and from this, each athlete identified the top 3 things that knocked them off centre, that distracted or threw them. We reinforced this through an experiential game that challenged them in terms of balance, concentration, noise and fear. Then we looked at competitions where their performance was excellent, when they nailed their dives of felt a real sense of accomplishment. From this we distilled key words for them to focus on and combined them with breath-work to create a form of mental mantra. Once again, we tested them through an experiential game. Balance improved, concentration improved and fear was reduced.