Role of Concentration in Injury Paul Dent
Introduction • Paul Dent, MSc • Lecturer, Brunel University • BASES Accredited Sport & Exercise Psychologist • Reviewer SE and Accreditation Applications • Research: “Emotional Responses and Coping Skills in Injured Elite Athletes” • Contact: email@example.com • www.essential-sport.com
Previous Work • London Wasps • English Institute of Sport • British Judo • BAoFE • Ladies Golf • Injured Athletes • Platform Diving • Olympic Silver Medallists Athens 2004 • Commonwealth Games 2006
Concentration • Definition • Types & Shifting of Attentional Focus • Attentional Problems • Choking • Self-Talk • Tips & Exercises for Improving Concentration • Focus and the Injured Athlete
What is Concentration? Concentration is the ability to maintain focus on relevant environmental cues. Also called “attention”.
Types of Attentional Focus EXTERNAL INTERNAL Assess Perform BROAD NARROW Analyze Rehearse
Broad-External Used to rapidly assess a situation Narrow-External Used to focus exclusively on one or two external cues Broad-Internal Used to analyze and plan Narrow-Internal Used to mentally rehearse an upcoming performance or control an emotional state Four Types of Focus
Identifying Types of Focus • A “scrum half” is making a decision on which play to call • A bowler scans for tension before starting her approach • A golfer recalls a few previous similar shots when deciding on a club • A tennis player watches his toss as he starts his serve • A coach figures out the starting line-up
Shifting Attentional Focus When the environment changes rapidly, attentional focus must also change rapidly • Examples? • Shifting Exercise
Attentional Problems INTERNAL DISTRACTERS: Within ourselves, thoughts, worries, concerns EXTERNAL DISTRACTERS: Stimuli from the environment
External Distracters • Visual distractions • Auditory distractions • Gamesmanship (trash talking, psyching out opponent) • Examples?
Internal Distracters I can’t wait to celebrate! • Attending to past events (e.g. Lisa) • Attending to future events (“what if…”) • Choking • Overanalyzing body mechanics • Fatigue • Self-Talk
SELF -TALK(Any Statement or Thought) POSITIVE Self-Talk Increases: Self-esteem Motivation Attentional Focus Performance NEGATIVE Self-Talk is: Critical Self-demeaning Counterproductive Anxiety Producing
Uses: *Concentration *Skill Acquisition *Breaking Bad Habits *Initiating Action *Sustaining Effort Changing Self-Talk: *Thought Stopping *Changing Negative ST to Positive ST Self-Talk (cont.)
An attentional process that leads to impaired performance and the inability to retain control over performance without outside assistance Choking
Practice with Distractions Use Cue Words to Focus (instructional & motivational) Employ Non-judgmental Thinking Establish Routines* Practice Eye Control Stay Focused in the Present Overlearn Skills Develop Competition Plans Tips for Improving Concentration on Site
Competition Routine Rugby Throw-In • Assess field position on way to line • Get ball and take deep breath • Look at ball & adjust hand position • Stagger feet and shift balance backwards • Raise ball overhead & keep elbows in and hips straight • Take a deep breath • Make call and make eye contact with target • Recoil and snap at waist
Exercises to Improve Concentration • Learn to Shift Attention • Learn to Maintain Focus • Search for Relevant Cues • Rehearse Game Concentration • Parking Thoughts
Attentional Focus with Respect to Injury • Focus is perhaps the most neglected and misunderstood psychological contributor to rehabilitation and return to sport • Facilitating cues include pain (as information), proprioceptive responses, physical dimensions such as range of motion and strength, information that you provide, support from others and feedback from physical therapy equipment
Injury and Attention • Interfering cues are comprised of negative thoughts, anxiety, pain (as a inhibitor), preoccupation with the rehabilitated area on return to sport, pressure from others to recover quickly, distractions during treatment and comparisons to others on return to sport. • Injured athletes often possess either external or internal focus styles that involve a preference to focus on external or internal information and that allow greater ease and comfort in processing the respective kinds of information • Injured athletes can learn to adjust focus much like a the beam of a torch in which it can be widened to illuminate a large area or narrowed to brighten a small area.
Injury and Attention • Patients with an external focus need to focus away from disruptive internal cues and onto necessary external cues such as instruction and feedback • Those with an internal style need to block out external distractions and focus on relevant internal rehabilitation cues • Injured athletes should balance long-term, short-term focus, pay attention to the four P’s (positive, process, present, progress), control their eyes and use keywords and rehabilitation imagery
Case Study: • Working in pairs, identify a patient who perhaps is lacking in focus through their rehabilitation, • Design a short intervention aimed at altering their attentional style / focus and state how you will monitor progress of the patient.