November 07, 2022 | Tagged Skills
“Concentration is the secret of strength.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This could be called fundamentals. It is the concentrated effort and focus to build skills that gain strength, accuracy, and execution. It is a highly neglected aspect of youth sports right now. The brain learning a skill needs to be devoted, accurate repetition to codify the skill into an intuitive response. This takes time--significantly more time than we are giving as a basketball culture. From this bedrock of fundamental skills emerges basketball pattern recognition, higher levels of basketball IQ, playmaking, and elite talent.
What is concentration?
Concentration means to condense the intensity of action and to have mental focus. In sports psychology, it is your ability to focus on specific information while ignoring others. For example, a young athlete learning to dribble, he or she must devote total concentration toward that one task whereas a pro player devotes no concentration toward dribbling the ball. A sports psychologist can help athletes hone their concentration through mental imagery, elimination of distraction, and discipline.
Experts on concentration say concentration focuses your thoughts and feelings toward the success of the goal or task at hand.
Any time you want to know if you have high concentration ask yourself:
- Do my thoughts and actions create specific steps toward success?
- Is what I am thinking about or doing relevant to the outcome I want to achieve?
- Are my thoughts on things I can control?
Another way to measure concentration is your interest level. When concentration is lagging, increase your interest. Curious people have high concentration. Concentration is interest in action.
Individual Skill Set is Crucial
Basketball in many ways has become an individual game where five people on the court work to provide an offensive overload for a player to beat their man. Many college offenses have a strategy of using up the clock, then attacking the basket in a clear-out one on one scenario. Serious players must have the ability to defensively stop any matched opponent and score quickly in a one-on-one. This demands the defense double-team a strong offensive player, leaving wide-open possibilities.
Here are a few ways to bring your full concentration to the game:
a. Before every practice and every game, you need to answer two crucial questions.
Why are you there? And what do you want to accomplish?
These crucial questions establish your level of interest and help your brain concentrate on what is important.
b. Understand why you are losing concentration. Do you know why your mind wanders when your coach is talking causing you to miss key messages?
Your mind wandered from your coach because you were either apathetic or anxious. Apathy is boredom, and boredom seeks to escape. Anxiety is painful, and the mind in pain seeks to escape.
Do you know why you lost track of your position and didn’t block out?
Your mind wandered from its task because you were distracted by something else. Maybe you were distracted by something external—a shove, a push, focus on the ref or the coach. Maybe you were distracted by something internal--- thinking ahead to the outcome of the game, or how you want to get open on offense before you finished your job on defense.
c. Self-conscious nervous or pressured thinking takes you out of your game.
These are quite different ways to think:
I love to shoot. When the ball slides into my hands, I am focused on a strong two-foot stop, locking eyes target, strong legs, and high follow through.
What if I miss this shot? I need to make it. I’ve been short every time. I hope I don’t shoot an airball.
I don’t know why I don’t get more passes. I am the best shooter, and my coach doesn’t believe in me. I don’t get the ball enough to prove my shooting percentage so I need to shoot anytime I can.
9 Big Distractions
Here are the 9 most common typical distractions in basketball, school or work according to research professor Aidan Moran.
You lose your concentration because:
1. You have so many things to do, you don’t know where to start
2. You do not have a goal before starting a task.
3. You do not have a plan or timetable for accomplishing your task.
4. You are too tired.
5. You are often interrupted.
6. Your mind is plaguing you with personal problems, fears, and worries.
7. You are not motivated to begin the task—procrastination. Your interest in avoiding the task is higher than your interest in doing the task.
8. You anticipate the result before you are finished.
9. You attend to unrelated matters while doing a task.
Which one do you struggle with the most?
HOW TO OVERCOME DISTRACTIONS
according to research on concentration
Create a routine. Routine helps you block out interruptions.
Try to control what you can control. In a study about listening to music, students who were able to adjust the sound of the music were more effective at tuning out and concentrating than students who had no control of the volume of sound.
Have a game plan and a timeline. Before you practice, complete homework, write a paper, commit to a project, and put down a plan with what you want to accomplish and a timeframe to do this.
Get to the task. Often, people sidetrack the task by prepping for the task. Getting a cup of tea, or the right snack, checking Instagram before you start, etc… Get to the task first and then reward with a cup of tea.
Take exercise breaks. Physical activity is crucial for mental well-being.
Pick one task at a time. Pick the hardest to get it out of the way so you don’t procrastinate.
Concentration can be fragile. Hunger, anger, fear, and fatigue can influence concentration. Strong concentration comes from a strong person. Get stronger and healthier and your concentration will improve.
Feelings don’t count when starting a task. Don’t base your motivation on how you feel. Let your rigid routine carry you through your reluctant feelings. As the wise adage says, “It’s easier to act your way into feeling rather than feel your way into acting.” Get into the gym and start working before you check whether you want to work out
About NBC Basketball
NBC has been a leader of sports psychology for over 50 years. Mental toughness is as important to train as ball handling or shooting. You can mechanically be a sound shooter, but without confidence, you cannot succeed. Through the years, we have seen talented shooters, pass up opportunities because of lack of confidence, or a shooter with poor percentages and overinflated confidence shooting too much when they would do well with some self-control. The four components of sports psychology are concentration, confidence, control, and commitment. For the next few months, NBC Basketball newsletters will bring expert advice to helping you improve in these four key areas.