Concentration in Youth Sports
When young athletes struggle with distractions, it can hurt their performance. When they can’t reach a state of flow, they make more mental errors.
Kids lose concentration a lot and it’s part of playing sports. They often think too much about things such as their stats, needing to score, or worrying about what others think, and thus they are not performing in the moment.
Instead of being distracted by irrelevant thoughts when performing, kids need to focus on small objectives that help them think about execution or moment-to-moment tasks in their game.
We call these process goals or mini goals, and using them can replace expectations about scoring and help athletes focus on their execution.
This, in turn, can help them get into those desirable flow states in which they’re completely immersed in their tasks and it feels as if time is suspended.
What process goals should your athletes set?
They are about the moment-by-moment performance, such as creating space to receive a pass. These process goals help them to stay in the moment.
Other examples include:
-Reading the defense in football
-Committing to the shot in golf
-Focusing on court awareness in basketball
Once they define the objectives to focus on during performance, the next step is to understand their most common distractions. These might include:
-Thinking ahead about results or stats
-Worrying about what teammates think
-Losing focus when upset with mistakes
-Thinking about who’s watching the game
Next, you want your athletes who start thinking about results or focusing on who is in the stands to refocus on the current play.
The mental skill of REFOCUSING is key to their performance because you don’t want distractions to lead to making mental mistakes.
Also, remember not to pick out too many objectives at one time. Instead, focus on the ones that are most important to your young athletes given their position or specific task.
Help Your Young Athletes Improve Focus In Sports!
Are your young athletes easily distracted by people shouting on the sidelines? Do they obsess over their mistakes? Do they worry about what people think of them?
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What are parents and coaches saying?
“I read your report and prepared a one-page summary for my team. I asked the team to attend a 10am training session on Saturday before the final on Sunday. (I told parents) they must obtain the one-page summary handout from me and ask a parent to read it to them until they understood what it meant…My boys succeeded! We beat a team that no one could beat during the year, that was coached by a former professional player that had sons of former Professional players in the team and as a result of believing in themselves, they won. In my humble opinion , I look beyond the game and hope the kids have learned a lesson in life that you really can do almost anything if you put your mind to it. We salute you and the wonderful work you do.”
~Anthony (Tony) Costa, coach
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~Darren, Sports Dad
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~Scott, Sports Dad
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What are our mental coaching students saying?
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