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Create a Mental Checklist to Improve Concentration

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It seems to me that coaches tend to write off youth athletes who lack the discipline to focus through practice or games. CoachesUnknown123 seem to think that concentration is an innate skill and can’t be improved or changed. As a kid I remember hearing that the human brain could only focus for five seconds at a time, this immediately became my internal excuse for not paying attention in class. So I’m guilty of dismissing the possibility of improvement as well.

I’ve learned of Neuroplasticity: “The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.” This means that concentration can be enhanced due to our brains ability to undergo neuroplasticity.

images-62 Like I’ve said before, most coaches simply tell players to concentrate without teaching them how to do so. I’ve reworked my coaching language in an tempt to avoid doing this. I try to keep the words “concentrate” and “focus” out of my coaching vocabulary as much as possible. Easier said than done. I’ve begun to utilize a strategy I picked up in graduate school. I consciously create a concentration checklist for my athletes when I feel they are losing focus, or concentrating on the wrong aspects.

So what is a concentration checklist you ask? It consists of 3-4 physical or mental components needed to complete a skill. They are simple, short tasks which are easy to remember and repeat. A skill we are all familiar with is making a right turn while driving. A concentration checklist for this would look something like this:

1. Signal blinker

2. check traffic to left and right

3. accelerate and turn the wheel to the right side.

When teaching athletes how to throw a change up, I usually give them this checklist. hqdefault

1. Lock wrist to the sky

2. Keep Elbow at your side

3. Think over the bucket in the hole

This checklist helps to keep athletes thoughts on the right path. I’m implying the need for them to focus more adequately, and showing them how to do it, rather than simply telling them they need to.

Consolidate the task at hand into three simple steps. It’s something simple that athletes can repeat to themselves to keep their mind and body on the right track.

Quote of the day:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

About smarcia12

I am a Sports Psychology graduate student who is more than passionate about the world of sport psychology. I not only strive to better the sports world, but all aspects of life! Sport psychology is so applicable to everyday life, it's amazing!

One response »

  1. So skills are based on routines. Which can be learned.

    I teach chess pupils f.e. if a piece is attacked, look at:
    – take
    – put between
    – go away
    – defense
    – counterplay

    On http://www.chesstalent.com, button free items, you find a link to a questonaire to analyze your played games, with technical and psychological questions. This gives possibility to learn to verbalize what is going on and makes clear what to work on.

    A player can use this list him self, in a group with partners and/or with a trainer/coach.

    The list can be transformed for other sports.

    regards, Karel van Delft

    Reply

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