Here’s a key thought from Dr. Alan Goldberg:
“It’s very easy to understand that you need to focus in the now, but much harder to consistently do it! The way that you stay in the now is by immediately becoming aware whenever your focus drifts back to the past or ahead to the future, then quickly return your concentration to the now. Losing your focus won’t make you nervous. What will make you nervous is losing your focus and not bringing it back right away! It’s the break in concentration that you don’t immediately catch that will drive your stress level through the roof and sabotage your play.”
As coaches, we make our best effort to keep our players’ minds on track by cluing them in to what they should be focusing on. When you hear Coach O’Brien, or Coach Wiggins reinforcing a specific task — “chop your feet”, “find the attack point”, “vary your mark’s distance” — that’s them helping their players stay concentrated on the task at hand, and how to improve in that moment.
The key to a strong practice or training session is to maintain awareness of how you can succeed during each step. Team leaders can use their vocal position to keep everyone clued in and on task by planning a different focus for each progression of a drill. Preparation before practice can lead to a more mindful and more productive session.