Dialing in focus for a big competition

Hey everybody, it’s me, Coach Rebecca. Today I want to talk to you about dialing in focus for a big competition. The pressure on these young athletes this time of year can be tremendous, that pressure can easily affect their focus.

Focus in a high-stress situation

When you are in a high-stress high pressure situation, it can go two ways. If you don’t know how to focus and use your mental training all of that adrenaline can cause your brain to short circuit and fall apart. but if you have trained your brain and can use that adrenaline to hone in and focus your brain you can actually ride that high and perform to the best of your ability.

Your focus flashlight

I call it the focus flashlight. You start with this “floodlight of focus”. Usually, you are paying attention to a lot of things. Everything going on around you, what you are doing, what you want to do later, and usually a lot of other things. When your adrenaline rises and you are under pressure your focus narrows in. If you don’t know how to direct that focus in high-stress situations you could end up focusing on the wrong thing. Focusing on the wrong thing can take away all of your power to perform to the best of your ability. 

Giving your brain a job will help it focus

The best way to focus on and help your brain focus on the correct thing for the moment you are in is to give it a job. Now if I were to say, here this is the job you need to give your brain I would really only be helping 10-20% of you. Everyone is different. Everyone’s brain is different. There is no one size fits all mental training. That is one of the upsides of being a part of Perform Happy. We help you become more aware. Once you are aware of how your brain works and to help you how to compete to the best of your ability. 

What works for you?

To help you find where that beam of focus should be, think back to the last really successful routine you did at a competition. What were you thinking about before that routine? Were you focusing on the bar, were you talking yourself through reminders like squeeze your core point your toes, maybe you were singing your favorite song. Whatever it was, it obviously works for you and we should work to make that an automatic thing before every competition and routine. 

Turning on the focus

Before you show up to a meet and your focus flashlight is swinging around taking in the sights and sounds and smells, are you able to decide okay now I need to focus. And from that moment do you know how to get yourself into that state of mind and dial in your focus and turn off the distractions. 

Turning off the distractions

You can start by writing down all of your internal and external distractions. 

Internal distractions can look like:

  • you have to use the bathroom
  • your worries
  • being self-conscious
  • having butterflies

External distractions can look like:

  • The equipment is different or the kind you don’t like
  • the music is too loud or not loud enough
  • it smells weird 
  • you don’t like the way the mat feels

Once you become aware of your possible distractions you can begin to decide how to work through them. Now that you know what you are preparing for and what solutions and focus strategies work for you, you can begin to use your focus superpowers again. 

Parents and distractions

For a second I would like to address all the parents reading this and give a little insight into your athletes’ distractions. You might be surprised to find out just how many athletes list their parents as bigger external distractions. Here is how you can help your athletes stay more focused. In the car on the way to practice keep the conversation on the practice ahead. Not school, not what’s happening tonight or this weekend, not the less than stellar test grade they got. Keep the focus on the upcoming practice and what they can do there. 

On the way to the meet and the morning of the meet, we shouldn’t be talking about the bad practice that was had earlier in the week. Not what is going on next week, not on being late and not being ready to walk out of the house on time that morning. The less we can put distracting intrusive thoughts into their minds the easier it will be for your athlete to dial in their focus.


Perform Happy is here to help

If you and your athlete are having a hard time narrowing that focus flashlight and finding what works for you, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help! In fact, you can sign up for a FREE consultation with me or one of our coaches.  Then we can make a plan to help the specific blocks you are running into!

Check out our Facebook page Complete Performance Coaching to see everything we have going on to help you and your athletes!  

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.