Knowing what to pay attention to during performance and being able to concentrate are two of the most important skills for a successful performance. Often, coaches ask athletes to ‘pay attention’…
…However, they do not state what to focus on, and do not dedicate the time and to teach how to use the relevant focus depending on the task, or how to manage distractions.
Attention is a cognitive ability key for performance as it allows us to do the following:
-Select the relevant stimuli out of all the stimuli we are exposed to, whether they are internal or external, depending on the task. Internal stimuli include: thoughts, body sensations and feelings. External stimuli include for instance fans cheering the other team.
-Being immersed in the current task we are on, being in the present, in the here and now.
-Keep concentration for a particular time, depending on the demands of the task.
-Changing our focus of attention towards relevant stimuli depending on the task.
Although the words attention, concentration and focus are often used interchangeably, it is worth noting the difference between them:
Attention: is what you are observing.
Focus: is your central point of attention.
Concentration: is your ability to direct your focus and perform without distractions.