Mental Training? Part 5 : Concentration

If you missed Part 1, clic here : Mental Training? Part 1 : Goal Setting
If you missed Part 2, clic here : Mental Training? Part 2 : Imagery
If you missed Part 3, clic here : Mental Training? Part 3 : Confidence
If you missed Part 4, clic here : Mental Training? Part 4 : Self Talk

BlogSo what is concentration, and how can you become a master at it?

You listen to a man by the name of Robert Nideffer. He developed a theory revolving around attentional focus and concentration with relation to training and athletic behavior.

Nideffer crosses these two dimensions, yielding four attentional styles. Listed here are the styles and we will explain each one. You excited? I know I am!!…

Narrow + External: Perform

The most common form of concentration is the Narrow External also called perform. Here you are closely focused on a single object in the environment around you.

For example, if you are an inside line backer and the ball has just been thrown over the middle, your concentration may have gone from wide to very narrow externally focusing on that ball and only that ball. You want to try your best to intercept it. Increasing your minds ability to concentrate on the narrow external will increase these chances of success, so here is how you practice.

Sit in a room, focus on a object across the room, really sit there and stare at it, notice every small detail, once there is nothing you haven’t seen on that object quickly move to something else in that room, and focus on it.

Once you have this down transition to listening to a particular sound in that room, figure out what the sound is and label it. Practicing your external narrow focus can be done anywhere anytime. Try and focus on all forms of concentration at least 3 times a week….. Note to self, don’t stare at people in restaurants and narrow in on their food, they don’t like it…hahahahaha…

Narrow + Internal: Rehearse

Narrow internal drills also referred to as rehearse. Here we have a level of concentration that is very specific. However this doesn’t negate the importance of this form of concentration. By practicing narrow internal concentration you can learn to control your physiological state.

A prime example of a narrow internal drill is controlled breathing. Notice how your abdominal region rises as air comes in, and decreases as air goes out. Now focus on your exhale… slowing down the pace of your breathing, allow the air to just come out on it’s own…. It’s as if the breathing is being done for you. By concentrating narrowly on your internal self you learn to control many other physiological states as well, tension in your muscles is another prime example.

After you are done breathing exercise and feel as if the breathing is being done for you move onto a tense muscle. Picture the muscle in your head releasing and just relaxing. Feel the tension slip away with your breathing. This completes your practice session for now.

Mastering the skill of Narrow internal concentration enables you as an athlete to be in greater control of your physiological state. If you are exhausted after a long run, and you are sitting on the bench muscles are tense breathing is heavy, remember your narrow internal concentration, block everything else out, allow your body to reach it’s ideal state. You are in control!! You will be relaxed and ready to hit the track, exercise, or any other type of activity you are doing with a HUGE burst of energy in no time!!

Broad + Internal: Asses

Broad internal drills, also referred to as asses. Here you will want to asses your internal self in a broad way. The advantage to this form of concentration is you learn about your own internal decisions and feelings through differing environments…. If this is confusing, don’t worry I was right there with you when I first read all this…..

Broad internal training gives you a better understanding of what you go through in high pressure situations. So here is what I would like to see you do, and this is going to need the help of a friend.

Let a friend know what you are trying to achieve (increased mental strength through broad internal concentration). Broad Internal drills are all about concentrating and learning, if you can learn what effects your movement patterns and decision making processes you are guaranteed to be a better athlete down the road.

An example would be the barbell bench press. Put on 40% of your 1MR show your friend(s) what you feel is your ideal form. Now load up the desired weight. Ask them to watch and see how similar you are to your ideal ROM (range of motion). Feel how the weight moves through your ROM, see if you feel it’s the same or different. Then see what your friend has to say.

Broad + External: Analyze

Broad External also known as analyze. Broad external is a another more common concentration method you may use on a daily basis, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice or can’t become better at it. Having a strong broad external ability allows you to see the entire field, while still paying attention to a particular area.

You have always heard your coach say… practice on your peripheral vision. Well this is how. Sit in a room or on the field or anywhere in public…. while looking straight ahead try and focus on everything around you, see as many objects as your peripheral vision will allow.

Now close your eyes try and picture everything you just saw and where it is, open your eyes to check and see if you are right. If you missed anything no issues at all. The importance here is repetition, and even though this is conscious effort, over time your mental strength will increase to the point your unconsciously recognizing everything in your peripheral vision without trying.

Can you say, SUPER POWER? As a athlete seeing as much as you can makes those split second decision much easier. With the ability to see the whole field your chances of successfully executing a play or exercise has significantly increased.

Summary

Mental training is a vital part of creating a competitive advantage, and now you have the tools to get it!!! Always remember to spend 15-30 minutes at the beginning or end of practice, while taking 3 to 5 weeks mastering a mental skill. It is a great idea to talk to your Coach, Assistant Coach, teammates, and even family about what you are trying to achieve.

Furthermore letting them know if you could use their help. These 5 strategic mental training methods have been used time and time again and have proven to be great assets to some of the best athletes in the world.

If you have missed any of the 5 strategic mental training methods, feel free to go back and look up the other blogs. Making notes or printing the take aways is a must if you want to succeed.

About the Author

Coach Chuck Dertinger is an accomplished fitness and nutrition expert, holding a Masters Degree in Science with a concentration in Exercise Physiology. Chuck lives, breaths, and loves to promote healthy lifestyle choices. He went from skinny to brawny gaining over 50-lbs of muscle in a couple of years through the use of sound training and nutrition tactics. Feel free to add him on Facebook and ask any questions with relation to nutrition or exercise.

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