News : Why am I not able to focus on competition?
Have you ever seen yourself reflected in situations like this?
- “The leading group has escaped and I haven’t even noticed.”
- “If I’m honest, I don’t even know what happened in the race and when I wanted to realize it, I was already at the finish line” (in the case of athletics).
Or in the case of soccer or other opposition sports:
- “Nor have I seen the opponent.”
- “I have not realized how or when the ball was taken from me.”
If it has ever happened to you, it is most likely that you have lost concentration on the task you were doing and as a consequence you have suffered this type of distraction. But … why does this happen to us?
Williams, Tonyman and Andersen (1991), showed in a publication that many times “stress” interrupts the athlete’s attention because it reduces peripheral attention (of what happens around us) and consequently, we make “silly mistakes”. This can be given both in exams, as in competition, as well as in other important events.
In fact, many times the nerves that we have in stressful situations are so high that they end up playing tricks on us and lead us to make bad decisions or even not be able to make them, because we are in a state of “blockage”.
The Inverted U Curve theory that relates the Yerkes-Dodson performance-anxiety explains this phenomenon, revealing that both very high levels of stress – for wanting to do well, for “demonstrating”, for fear of failing, not being up to par, etc., as well as very high levels of stress. handicapped -for “trusting us”, believing that it is going to be an easy game or that we start with a lot of advantage in a competition-, they are as much or just as harmful. While medium levels of stress or activation, would allow us to prepare for the event that we have before us and achieve a good performance in it.
So, to get stay focused on the task we are doing the first thing we have to do is reduce anxiety levels. There are a series of techniques that can help us, such as:
- Relaxation techniques or from breath control, such as the practice of diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing or counting breathing, which allow us to change the shallow and choppy breathing that occurs when we are very nervous, for a slower, deeper and more leisurely breathing.
- Techniques based on muscle tension and strain such as Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), that help us to discriminate between feelings of fatigue and calm.
- Visualization techniques, which help you acquire a certain degree of control, planning and confidence in what you are going to do.
- Other techniques based on autosuggestion, mindfulness, meditation or mindfulness techniques.
Also, lack of concentration can often lead to negative thoughts or a “ruminative mind.” To avoid this, the athlete should try to:
- Focus on the relevant signals. Select previously those signals to which you are going to attend and those to which you are not going to pay attention. For this, the key is to focus on aspects related to controllable skills and not so much, on ambiguous or uncontrollable external signals such as the wind, the delay of the competition, etc.
- Maintain the attention focus. For this, it will be easier to divide the task into sub-stages or have small objectives to achieve within it. Thus, it will be easier to face a marathon by dividing it into 10km stages, each with its own objective, than to face the 42km at once.
- Maintain situational awareness. That is, the ability of the athlete to see what is happening around him, anticipating different situations or match conditions, opponents, strategies, etc., to be able to make correct decisions in specific situations.
As we have seen, get a proper activation Before competing, it is key to maintaining our focus on what we are doing, since if we activate too much we can suffer from overvoltage and fatigue and our execution and decision-making will cease to be fluid.
The combination of an optimal level of physiological and psychological arousal, together with an adequate motivation and level of expectations, will allow us to pursue our goals and stay focused on what we are doing.