of 50 /50
HELPING ATHLETES HELPING ATHLETES STAY FOCUSED: STAY FOCUSED: ATTENTION BASICS ATTENTION BASICS Damon Burton & Bernie Holliday Damon Burton & Bernie Holliday Vandal Sport Psychology Services Vandal Sport Psychology Services University of Idaho University of Idaho

Embed Size (px)


HELPING ATHLETES STAY FOCUSED: ATTENTION BASICS. Damon Burton & Bernie Holliday Vandal Sport Psychology Services University of Idaho. What is attention?. WILLIAM JAMES’ DEFINITION OF ATTENTION. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation



    Damon Burton & Bernie HollidayVandal Sport Psychology ServicesUniversity of Idaho

  • What is attention?

  • WILLIAM JAMES DEFINITION OF ATTENTION Everyone knows what attention is. It is taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seems several simultaneous possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration of consciousness are the essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others (1890, pp. 403-404)

  • SIMPLIFIED DEFINITION OF ATTENTIONAttention is a cognitive process whereby you direct and maintain awareness of stimuli detected by the senses and use that information to make decisions and choose responses.You continually receive information about your internal and external environment through your senses.You can not be aware of all the sensory information coming into your senses.Perception occurs when you attend to sensory information Decision-making and response selection require attention directed toward key perceptual informant.

  • What are the two (2) dimensions of attention?

  • DIMENSIONS OF ATTENTIONwidth of attention (broad or narrow)broad focus would attend to a large number of stimuli at the same time (e.g., QB reading a defense or point guard executing a 3 on 2 fast break)narrow focus (e.g., golfer lining up a putt)direction of attention (internal or external)internal focus is directed inward on thoughts and feelings (e.g., monitor your bodys responses and mental skills).external focus is directed to events happening in the environment (e.g., evaluating playing conditions)

  • Does attention impact sport success?

  • DOES ATTENTION IMPACT SPORT SUCCESS?When experiencing Flow, athletes are completely focused on the task at hand, quiet the mind and block out external distracters.Successful athletes report being able to maintain their focus better, being less distracted, and able to regain focus with minimal effort compared to less successful performers.

  • DOES ATTENTION IMPACT SPORT SUCCESS?Research confirms that the primary differences between expert and novice athletes is due to differences in sport-specific attention factors.Experts have superior pattern recognition skillsExperts anticipate better because they can use advanced cues to predict behavior better.Experts make smart decisions and choose appropriate responses quickly.

  • What is attentional capacity and how does it impact performance?

  • ATTENTIONAL CAPACITYYou have a limited attentional capacity.Controlled Processing occurs when athletes consciously focus on performing the sport skill (e.g, focusing on the mechanics of how to execute a tennis serve)Controlled processing is slow, conscious, deliberate, step-by-step and attention-demanding process.

  • ATTENTIONAL CAPACITYAutomatic Processing when you perform a skill without conscious attention thought.Automatic processing is fast, holistic, occurs below the conscious level, and is not attention demanding (e.g., can dribble in traffic while looking for an open player to pass to).

  • COACHING TIPS ON SKILL AUTOMATICITYlist 3-5 things should do to enhance skill automaticitylist 3-5 things should not do to enhance skill automaticity.

  • ATTENTIONAL DEMAND-PROCESSING TRADEOFFThe greater the amount of information to process . . . the greater the attentional demands (e.g., more choices to choose between, disguise pitches or be more unpredictable) andthe longer the processing time.

  • What is selective attention?

  • SELECTIVE ATTENTIONSelective Attention is the process of attending to some information coming into our senses and ignoring or screening out other information.Experts must be able to select the correct cues from countless irrelevant and competing stimuli (e.g., information to focus on when returning serve).

  • SELECTIVE ATTENTION GUIDELINESYou attend to cue you find meaningful and interesting. You attend to things that you have been instructed to attend to or have learned through experience to focus on.You attend to novel or unexpected stimuli that grab your attention.

  • What are the orienting response and habituation effects?

  • ORIENTING RESPONSEThe orienting response commands your attention under the following conditions . . .The stimulus is very intense (e.g., sudden loud noise or bright light)The stimulus is unusual or contrasts with the background environment.The stimulus moves.

  • HABITUATION EFFECTSHabituation occurs when one becomes accustomed to stimuli that remain unchanged and dont attend to them.Implications -- add common distractions to practice so athletes learn to habituate to them.


    InternalExternalnegative self-talk


    past/future thoughts

    physical state visual auditory gamesmanship crowd opponents performance coach mistakes

  • How can you better attend to the right cues in sport?

  • SELECTIVE ATTENTION GUIDELINESdevelop a mindset,videotape training,performance-related cue words,process-oriented goals,simulations,imagery, and redirect attention.

  • 1. DEVELOPING A MINDSETanalyze your sport and identify the cues that are critical to top performance.devise strategies to learn how to focus on these cues, andminimize the number of cues and keep them as simple and straightforward as possible.

  • 2. VIDEOTAPE TRAINING help improve perceptual skills necessary to maximize anticipation,Batters learn to predict pitch locations and tennis players can anticipate whether passing shots will be cross-court or down-the-line.enhance knowledge of important cues, andstop video and ask specific questions about what is going to happen or what strategy to use.

  • 3. PERFORMANCE-RELATED CUE WORDSAn archer might keep their attention on their shooting by using the key words, pull, anchor, hold, and release.Diver Greg Louganis used the key words, relax, see the platform, sport the water, spot the water, spot the water, kick out, and spot the water again!Larry Bird use the cue words nothing but net when he shot free throws.

  • 4. PROCESS-ORIENTED GOALSFocus on the present,Dont focus on the past,Focus on specific process cues,Dont focus on outcome.

  • 5. SIMULATION TRAININGNASA commonly uses flight simulations to train astronauts to cope with various flight and equipment problems they might encounter.Prepare to handle . . .poor weather conditions,bad officials calls,subpar performance, an opponents hot streak, etc

  • 6. IMAGERYUsing models, videos and photos of performance venues, practice facilities and living quarters at competitive sites, imagery is used to enhance site familarity.Athletes imagine competing in this environment and effectively coping with potential distractors.Performers often report a dj vu experience when they compete because their preparation has been so effective.

  • 7. REDIRECT ATTENTIONEven with the best-laid plans, athletes will inevitably lose focus in some situations. Champion athletes have a recovery plan to put the distraction behind them and regain focus.Recovery plans use a systematic routine to relax, control self talk, refocus goals and imagine goal attainment.

  • What is concentration and what is the concentration paradox?

  • CONCENTRATION: SUSTAINING ATTENTIONConcentration is the ability to sustain attention on selected stimuli for a period of time. Concentration can easily be broken by . . .external distractions,our own thoughts and feelings, planned psych out strategies, and the intense energy demands of intense concentration.

  • PARADOX OF CONCENTRATION Because intense concentration is energy demanding, performers often confront tasks with fierce mental effort and try really hard to concentrate. The harder athletes try to concentrate, the more elusive concentration becomes. Effective concentration is a passive process that requires effortless effort.

  • EFFORTLESS EFFORT: THE CONCENTRATION SECRETAllow your mind to become absorbed in the here and now (i.e., the present) Lance Armstrong, Tour de France winner, reports, I think about cycling. My mind didnt wander. I didnt daydream. I thought about my techniques at various stages. Concentration comes naturally when the mind is interested and completely engrossed with the task at hand. Your body and mind must become totally absorbed in what youre doing, picking up those cues needed to achieve your goals.

  • What are some common concentration roadblocks?

  • CONCENTRATION ROADBLOCKSFactors that interfere with quieting or parking the mind include . . . excessive thinking stress, pain,and fatigue.

  • EXCESSIVE THINKINGCoach Phil Jackson believes, Basketball is a complex dance that requires shifting from one objective to another at lightening speed. To excel, you need to act with a clear mind and be totally focused on what everyone else is doing. The secret is not thinking. That doesnt mean being stupid; it means quieting the endless jabbering of thoughts so that your body can do instinctively what its been trained to do without the mind getting in the way.

  • GALLWEYS INNER GAME APPROACHGallwey emphasizes, Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering or distracting. The mind is still when it is in the here and now in perfect oneness with the action and the actor.

  • PROBLEM THOUGHTSLetting go of mistakes is difficult because we play the mistake over and over in our mind, beating ourselves up for the silly error.We become preoccupied with poor calls or let an opponents trash talking take us out of our game.Becoming future oriented is problematic because you forget to concentrate on what youre doing at the moment.Michael Jordan believes, You have to block out everybody and everything from your mind. If you let yourself think what if as you are doing it, you wont.

  • LACK OF TRUSTTrust is the ability to release conscious control over movements and allow yourself to perform automatically without conscious thought. In important competitions, we want to perform well so we try to control our performance rather than trusting our body to perform the skills the way it was trained to do through thousands of hours of practice.A pitcher may try to aim the ball rather than throw it or a mountain biker may try to guide his bike through a technical section rather than letting it run naturally.

  • UNDERAROUSAL PROBLEMSUnderaroused athletes feel flat and have a broad attentional focus that prompts them to easily lose focus.Tennis great Rod Laver believes, Staying interested in a match is a lot harder than many people think. Throughout my career, Ive always had trouble in the early rounds of a tournament mainly because it was hard fo me to psychologically get up until the quarters or semis. What happened a lot of times is I would fall behind early, maybe even lose the first couple of sets in a five-set match, and then begin to concentrate.

  • STRESS & OVERAROUSAL PROBLEMSOveraroused athletes develop tunnel vision and begin scanning to search for task-relevant cues.Scanning makes athletes more susceptible to distraction and more easily panicked.Overarousal prompts attention to be focused inward. Performers dwell on a constant stream of anxiety-producing thoughts and overanalyze events, prompting careless mistakes and poor decisions.

  • How can you improve your concentration?

  • CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES1. learn to manage stress,Effective stress management allows performers to shift attention from negative thoughts and excessive muscular tension to task relevant stimuli2. recognize energy demands of concentration, Learn to turn concentration on and off,

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES3. practice concentrating,Concentration improves with practice, so gradually try to extend the amount of time you concentrate.Goals promote increased concentration.4. use performance plans,Kayaker, Alan Edge always had a very detailed race plan with carefully defined process-oriented goals about how he wanted to paddle each section of the course. He attached great significance to having this sort of plan, and used it to help him focus his attention and feel in control.

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES5. implement recovery plans,Losing concentration is easy when something unanticipated occurs.Expecting distractions and having a plan to deal with them helps regain concentration quickly and effectively6. quieting drills,Rather than emptying our mind, we should strive to quiet our minds by becoming absorbed in the activity.Gallweys bounce and hit drill

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINESexperience the skill, Quality practice develops greater awareness of what feelings and sensations are experienced when executing a movement.Golf instructors sometimes have students hit balls quickly on the driving range to prevent getting overanalytical and become absorbed in feeling their natural swing.develop external sensory awareness,Gallweys awareness drills focus on be aware of flight, trajectory and spin of the ball in order to hit better shots.

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINESemploy triggers,Triggers may be words or actions that remind athletes to concentrate,Archer Darrell Pace turns his concentration on and off with this trigger, I look either straight down at the ground in front of me (i.e., off) or at the center of the target (i.e., on).10. use releases,Releases let go of negative thoughts and feelings that prevent concentration.Parking involves touch their locker when they go to practice and imagine any outside concerns flowing from their mind to the locker. Concerns must be unparked and dealt with after practice.

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES11. direct attention away from distracting thoughts and feelings, Tennis players play with their strings between points to keep their attention focused externally so they dont experience anxiety-provoking thoughts.12. focus on the controllable, Concentration improves when you decrease your areas of concern (I.e., scoring a goal, winning the game, not letting others down, etc) and increasing your areas of control

  • MORE CONCENTRATION IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES13. think nonjudgmentally,The moment start evaluating yourself in terms of how good or bad youre performing, you have lost focus and the constant flow of thoughts evaluating, criticizing and instructing begins.Rather than ignore mistakes, just view your performance with a neutral detachment.A nonjudgmental attitude requires you to become aware of what you are doing rather than focusing on what you should be doing.