chapter 16 Concentration
Session Outline • What Is Concentration? • Concentration and Optimal Performance • Types of Attentional Focus • Attentional Problems • Choking As an Attentional Problem (continued)
Session Outline (continued) • Self-Talk • Assessing Attentional Skills • Tips for Improving Concentration On Site • Exercises for Improving Concentration
What Is Concentration? Key Concentration = attention.
What Is Concentration? Concentration The mental effort placed on sensory or mental events. It is the person’s ability to exert deliberate mental effort on what is most important in a given situation.
What Is Concentration? • Four components of concentration • Focusing on relevant environment cues: Selective attention: selecting what cues to attend to and disregard • Maintaining attentional focus • Situation awareness: The ability to understand what is going on around oneself (to size up a situation) • Shifting attentional focus when necessary
Association–Dissociation • Associative attentional strategy: monitoring bodily functions and feelings, such as heart rate, breathing, muscle tension. • Dissociative attentional strategy: not monitoring bodily functions; distraction and tuning out. • It is best to think of association and dissociation as a continuum versus a simple dichotomy.
Selected Research Findingson Association–Dissociation • Associative strategies are generally correlated with faster running performances. • Runners use both associative and dissociative strategies. • Dissociation does not increase probability of injury, but it can decrease fatigue and monotony. • Dissociation should be used by individuals who want to increase adherence to exercise.
Concentration and Optimal Performance Elite athlete peak performance is associated with • being absorbed in the present and having no thoughts about past or future, • being mentally relaxed and having a high degree of concentration and control, and • being in a state of extraordinary awareness of both the body and the external environment.
Differences Between Experts and Novices in Attentional Processing Experts as compared to novice performers • make faster decisions and better anticipate future events, • attend more to movement patterns, • search more systematically for cues, • selectively attend to the structure inherent in sport, and • are more skillful in predicting ball flight patterns.
Information Processing Based Theories and Models of Attention • Single channel: Information is processed through a single and fixed capacity channel. • Variable allocation: Individuals are flexible and can choose where to focus their attention, allocating it on more than one task at a time. • Multiple resource pool:Attention is distributed throughout the nervous system (like microprocessors) with each microprocessor having its own unique capabilities and resource–performance relationship.
Key Theoretical Notions:Attentional Selectivity • Letting some information into the processing system while other information is screened or ignored (akin to using a searchlight to focus on certain things) • Common attentional selectivity errors- Being too broad in one’s focus- Being distracted from relevant information by irrelevant information- The inability to shift focus rapidly enough among all relevant cues
Key Theoretical Notions:Attentional Capacity • Attentional processing is limited in the amount of information that can be processed at one time. • Key implication: Automatic processing is less restrictive than controlled processing.
Key Theoretical Notions:Attentional Alertness • Increases in emotional arousal narrow the attentional field (i.e., one losses sensitivity to cues in the peripheral visual field with increased emotional arousal).
Concentration and Optimal Performance Focus on only the relevant cues in the athletic environment and eliminate distractions. The ability to automatically process or execute movements is critical in performance environments.
Types of Attentional Focus Key Several types of attentional focus are appropriate for specific sport skills and activities.
Attentional Problems Internal distractions • Attending to past events (e.g., what was?) • Attending to future events (e.g., what if?) • Choking under pressure • Overanalysis of body mechanics • Fatigue • Inadequate motivation
Choking As an Attentional Problem Choking is an attentional process that leads to impaired performance and the inability to retain control over performance without outside assistance.Choking is characterized by performers’ exhibiting conscious step-by-step execution of skills and a breakdown of automated movement patterns.
Attentional Problems External distractions • Visual distractions • Auditory distractions • Gamesmanship
Self-Talk Self-talk Any self-statement or thought about the self. Appropriate self-talk helps one focus on the present and keeps one’s mind from wandering.
Types of Self-Talk • Positive (motivational) • Negative • Instructional
How Self-Talk Works Event Missing an important shot in a tennis match Self-talk “Keep your eye on the ball—this match isn’t over” Response Better concentration, optimism, calmness (See table 16.1 on p. 383 of text.)
Negative Self-Talk • Performers who are able to think more positively about negative stressful events are more successful. • Ironic processing occurs—trying not to perform a negative action inadvertently causes that event to occur (e.g., driving into the water hazard in golf).
Use of Self-Talk • Motivational • Initiating action • Sustaining effort • Instructional • Skill acquisition • Breaking bad habits
Self-Talk and Performance Enhancement Positive self-talk improves performance. However, practitioners should evaluate the type of task and most appropriate type of self-talk needed to enhance performance on that task.
Six Rules for CreatingEffective Self-Talk • Keep phrases short and specific. • Use the first person and present tense. • Construct positive phrases. • Say your phrases with meaning and attention. • Speak kindly to self. • Repeat phrases often.
Techniques for Improving Self-Talk • Thought stopping—identifying negative thought, stopping the thought, focusing on task-relevant thought • Changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk
Changing Negative Self-Talkto Positive Self-Talk (See figure 16.4 on p. 383 of text.)
Assessing Attentional Skills • Test of Attention and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) • The TAIS is a general trait measure. Sport-specific measures also exist. The TAIS is not without problems. • Effective attenders can attend to several stimuli without getting overloaded and can narrow attentional focus without leaving out important information. • Ineffective attenders are easily confused with multiple stimuli.
Assessing Attentional Skills • Psychophysiological and neurological measures • EEG (brain activity).Elite shooters can voluntarily reduce cognitive activity and enhance performance. • Heart rate.Elite shooters experience cardiac decelerations just before performance.
Principles of Effective Concentration(Moran, 2004) • A focused state of mind requires “deliberate mental effort and intentionality.” • Although skilled athletes can divide their attention between two or more concurrent actions, they can focus consciously on only one thought at a time. • During peak performance states, athletes’ minds are so focused that there is no difference between what they are thinking and what they are doing.
Principles of Effective Concentration(Moran, 2004) • Athletes tend to lose their concentration when they pay attention to events and experiences that are in the future, in the past, out of their control, or otherwise irrelevant to the task. • Excessive anxiety can undermine optimal performance by having performers focus on inappropriate cues and focus too much on conscious (as opposed to automatic) control of movement.
Tips for Improving ConcentrationOn Site • Use simulations in practice (practice with distractions present). • Use cue words to focus (instructional and motivational words). • Employ nonjudgmental thinking. • Establish routines (before or during the event). (continued)
Tips for Improving ConcentrationOn Site (continued) • Develop competition plans. • Practice eye contact. • Self-monitor. • Overlearn skills.
Example of Preperformance Routine for Tennis Serve • Determine positioning and foot placement. • Decide on service grip and ball. • Adjust racket grip and ball. • Take a deep breath. • Bounce the ball for rhythm. • See and feel the perfect serve. • Focus on the ball toss and serve to programmed spot.
Exercises for Improving Concentration • Learn to shift attention. • “Park” thoughts. • Learn to maintain focus. • Search for relevant cues. • Rehearse game concentration. • Use distraction training.