“There are always distractions — if you allow them.” —Tony La Russa
One major mental skill distinguishes athletes and other performers who remain at the top of their game from ordinary people: the ability to adapt and refocus in the face of distractions. Football players deal with distractions on a weekly basis. When they travel to different stadiums, they face tens of thousands of fans and must keep their focus. How do they keep their minds free of distractions? They must consciously fight the urge to tune into the noise. Their ability to maintain focus allows them to perform to the best of their ability.
In order for anyone to perform at his or her best, they must develop the critical skill of distraction control. This ability is cultivated through practice. Maintaining focus through distractions is one of the most important skills a person can have when they are looking to consistently perform to their full potential.
So, what’s considered a distraction? Here are a few examples of potential pitfalls when it comes to breaking focus:
- Expectations of others, such as family members
- Scoring officials
- Financial and educational concerns
- Changes in familiar patterns
- Your own thinking before, during, and after a game
Distractions are all around us, but it is not impossible to control them. When you enter a competitive situation, the number of potential distractions increases. It is important to understand that you decide whether to let these things distract you, upset you, or take you away from your performance. You have the power to either choose to dwell on it or to let it go. You do not lose your performance skills because of a distraction; you let yourself lose the focus that allows you to execute your skills effectively.
No one can completely control their surroundings, so it is crucial that you anticipate challenges that might await you. There may disruptions that you do not expect. These might include:
- Schedule Changes
- Lack of Personal Space
- Difference in Facilities
Life brings ups and downs, and when disruptions are prevalent, keep in mind that a positive mindset will keep you on your toes and willing to tackle each obstacle. Negative reaction takes a lot of energy and lowers your resistance.
Do not be overcome by the distractions, but remain in control. You can find a way over, around, or through almost any obstacle by committing yourself to a positive attitude. When reacting emotionally to distractions, you defeat yourself because it takes away your best performance focus and leaves you mentally and physically drained.
Remember that focusing through distractions is not an easy habit, but a well-trained skill. Your ability to focus will find its center in a positive mindset. Before a contest, athletic or otherwise, find a positive mindset and stay focused in that state throughout the event.
Do not get absorbed by distractions. Let them go. It is important that you understand that competition will bring about events that are out of your control, but how you react is within your control. Focus with a positive energy, and your reactions will carry you through.
Above all, find joy in your experiences. Distractions can twist your mindset into thinking that your reality is grim. Only you have the power to control your outlook, no matter what comes your way.