While working with a Woman’s senior Netball squad the importance of concentration was a raised.
During a group session over half the team reported having lapses in concentration during their games.
Any Sports Performance is specifically made up of moments. Some moments are won. Some moments are lost. The teams and individuals who win the most moments usually go on to win their game.
Every moment matters when executing a skill or competing against an opponent. Lapses in concentration can make the difference between a Superior Performance and a substandard performance. Winning or Losing.
Ongoing concentration ultimately plays an essential part in any personal sports performance.
What is concentration?
It’s common to hear the words “Focus" or "Concentrate” but what does this mean?
Mental Focus or Concentration is devoting your Undivided Attention to a goal or a task without wavering. Focusing every ongoing thought toward an aim or goal without interruption.
Concentration and Relaxation go hand in hand.
When practising Concentration, controlling and directing of thoughts is essential. Always RELAX. Concentration and relaxation go hand and hand together.
Having the ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time is attained by conscious awareness and regular practice. The Mind needs training. Practising concentration is excellent training.
Concentration exercises for the Netball Team.
As a group we practised an exercise in concentration. Each player was asked to sit or lie down, close their eyes and relax.
The group was then asked to focus on their breathing. As they breathed in, the focus was on taking long deep breathes through their noses. As they breathed out through their mouth, they were asked to slowly and evenly exhale.
Everyone was asked to Consciously RELAX their muscles more and more.
The group did this for two minutes.
They were then asked to start counting back from 200. The aim was to visualise every number as it passed through their Imagination.
The numbers could be Imagined as any shape, form or colour.
Before starting everyone was reminded if another thought arises, STOP and REFOCUS. Start again at 200.
The Team practised this exercise for five minutes. On completion of the exercise we discussed their results.
Recognising unwanted thoughts and switching back to the original Focus.
Over two thirds of the team found it easier to count back from 200 to 100. The challenge became maintaining concentration after reaching 100, then counting back to 0.
The main issue was that players weren’t instantly RECOGNISING thoughts unrelated to the goal as soon as they presented.
To master the skill of concentration for prolonged periods, stay consciously aware & refocus instantly after distraction.
Team Mental Warm up prior to training or competition.
The Netball Team used this exact concentration exercise as part of their pre-match and pre-training routines. I’m thrilled to say their ongoing results have become encouraging. That particular team went on to make the finals and went on to win their Senior B grade competition. After speaking with each of the players individually all mentioned a significant improvement in their concentration ability. Both on and off the court.