Focus is the goal of thinking right, to focus on every play and then refocus on the next. Focus leads to great performance, with an athlete being totally in the present and totally in the moment (hence, time-orientation). It turns out Focus is just a thought, which means it's controllable, and it also means you have a choice to take that control. You can see after the foundation of determining motivation, we have the focus level.
How We Think
People can think one thought at a time, and I think my thoughts (one at a time), and you believe my thoughts (also one at a time). I pick my thoughts, and you pick yours.
Neither of us can make the other think anything because I am responsible for my thoughts, and you are yours. This means if I find myself with a wrong, negative, or unwanted thought, I have the choice to pick a different, right thought; the same goes for you and your thoughts.
Although it may seem redundant, most people are hesitant to believe we are completely controlling our own thoughts. We let our thoughts be taken over by a bad call by the referee, the weather, or a key player's injury, and then we let that explain away an athlete's lack of Focus.
Those are simply circumstances. While they may be undesirable circumstances, they don't have any power to control our thoughts unless we let them. We can choose to think wrong by giving up that control or choosing to think right. Developing the skill of thinking right allows an athlete to assume complete control of their thoughts and their performance. We can choose great performance.
Focus Is More Than Concentration
Focus is the wellspring of peak performance, of being 'in the zone.' Focus is the key to great performance because it allows us to be in the moment. It helps us stay in the present, in control, engaged, resilient, and tough.
Having Focus also allows an athlete to refocus when the time comes. Focus and its resulting effects mentioned above inspire an athlete's confidence and trust in themselves.
Focus is a thought, which means it's a skill that's completely under our control, we can choose Focus. In choosing Focus, we allow ourselves proper time orientation. I mentioned before the ability to refocus in time for the next play.
The future is a time for planning, goal setting, game planning, and practice, and again, this is NOT done during competition.
The present is where the magic happens and focuses us to be present in our present. The present is where peak performance happens.
Consider the example of a botched play during competition. You have a few options:
- You can get hung up on figuring out what went wrong (evaluating the past) and letting that affect your confidence
- Start to think ahead to the next few plays to try to make up for the botched play (planning the future)
- Stay in the present and focused on delivering on THIS play
It seems obvious, but how many times have you seen a dropped pass or a missed shot and watched the athlete's confidence visibly shrink? The quicker we can refocus on the present, the better our performance will be in the moment. When you add up 60 minutes of performance of being fully in the moment, in the present, that's what peak performance looks like.
"The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why they call it a present." Be present in your present. Think Right.