posted on: January 8, 2020
author: Anthony Pellegrino
One of the most important aspects of the mental game is the ability to focus on the moment at hand. To keep your attention on the performance itself and how you are operating within it.
Challenging matches can become very stressful if you let them. In these moments distractions and an unruly focus can take hold and negatively affect your level of play in a few various ways:
If you allow your mind to wander these distractions will:
How can you be expected to make the right play, or execute the best strategic maneuver if your mind is cycling through all these different intrusive anxieties?
Simple as that.
You’ll be too wrapped up in your own head to be able to do the right thing at the right time, and victory will slip right through your fingers.
Therefore, to attain victory, you must confine your entire self and your entire focus to the present moment. Don’t allow yourself to become preoccupied with troublesome glances like:
“What if I don’t win this next point?”
“What if I can’t manage to win today?”
“Will people think less of me if I lose this match?”
These will only upset your capacity to sink into the state of flow that is crucial to operate at your most optimal level. Very rarely will you find yourself playing at your best in a non-flow state.
But how can we cultivate this focus? Can we practice our ability to confine ourselves to the present?
The subject of mindfulness has seen something of a resurgence lately. The word has become quite the buzzword for soccer moms, business leaders, and everyone in between.
Don’t let the hype trick you. This psychological exercise has some serious merit and power behind it.
Mindfulness is the continuous act of gently bringing your focus back to the present moment without any harsh judgment attached. You find your mind wandering and you gently bring it back to center without berating yourself.
This can best be practiced through a form of meditation, guided breathing, yoga, tai chi, or something similar. It doesn’t require any equipment or extensive training beforehand. You just need a quiet place and your breath.
The practice has its origins in Buddhist traditions and is a central aspect of Vipassanā, or “special seeing,” meditation techniques.
It may not seem all that extensive or robust, but regular practice is tremendously beneficial for feelings of depression and anxiety. Our minds are often much noisier than we consciously realize sometimes, and a mind always on the go isn’t doing your brain any favors.
Seriously, when was the last time you just sat in silence? When was the last time that your mind took a few moments to be quiet? You lay your head down to sleep every night because your body needs a rest. Everyone knows complete exhaustion can wreak havoc on your physical state but do we extend the same consideration towards our minds?
Don’t be fooled into thinking that sleeping is giving your mind a real rest, everyone dreams many many dreams per night, even if you can’t always remember them.
Mindfulness meditation is your mind’s chance to get that much-needed rest. Like a good night’s sleep, a good meditation session can lead to benefits in all aspects of your mental and physical health, which is obviously optimal for athletes.
However, our main piece of advice in this post is to confine yourself to the present. Mindfulness will help with that too. You should think about mindfulness and meditation being a strategy to sharpen your mind’s ability to stay focused. It may not seem so intuitively, but it takes a surprising amount of effort to keep laser-sharp focus without meandering thoughts. It’s a skill to be practiced.
You regularly work your body at the gym to tone and develop your muscles. The mind and brain are muscles too that require regular exercise. Through the use of Vipassanā, body scans, guided breathing, and other mindfulness techniques you’ll have a much easier time dispelling bothersome thoughts and confining yourself to the present moment.
With this heightened ability to refine your focus, you’ll keep your head in the game at all times and effortlessly transition into a flow state more often, which will lead you down the path of optimal performance and ultimate victory.
Anthony Pellegrino is a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. He is currently studying to get his B.A. in Philosophy at Fort Hays State University. He works as contributor to Pulse Magazine and as a freelance content creator for several marketing agencies and brands. His writing is focused on philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, everyday life, and content marketing.
Learn more about the author: http://tonyp.press