Maintaining concentration and attention is important in all sports, but especially in cricket where a momentary lapse in concentration can be costly for the individual and the team.
Here are some steps that you can take to include attention training as part of your practice:
1. Put your phone down! In today’s society there is a massive emphasis on multitasking, with most people on multiple devices whilst watching TV, doing their work/homework and even while having conversations. Even as I am typing this article on my laptop, my 2 phones and my iPad are right beside me. However, because we have a limited attention span, the more things that we are trying to pay attention to at the same time, the less focus we have for each task. Think of it as a percentage. You start with 100%. If you are focusing on one task you have 100% focus for that task. If you are focusing on two tasks, your attention is either split evenly (i.e., 50-50) or one task will get more attention than the other, but neither will get 100%. This results in the dual-task paradigm, which states that once we split our attention, our performance on one or both (or more) tasks will decrease. Consequently, it is important to train your brain to focus on one task at a time, which starts with how you spend your time off the field. Use one device at a time (mine are currently off except my laptop!), do one task at a time and focus all of your attention on what you are doing in the moment. This is an example of mindfulness, which I talk about further in point 4.
2. What are you focusing on? (NOT what are you NOT focusing on!) Spend most of your time thinking about where you want your focus to be, not where you do not want to focus. Your body will follow your mind, therefore, if you are thinking about not getting out or not getting belted for six, you are likely to end up mis-hitting the ball or mistiming your bowling action, increasing the likelihood of getting out or getting hit for six because that is where your focus is. Instead, when you identify where you do not want to go or something that you do not want to do, think about where you can go instead, for example, your bowling line or where you want to hit the ball..
3. Practice under pressure. The hardest situations to maintain attention and focus are pressure situations. Therefore, it is important to create pressure during practice to help you prepare for game day situations. For example, use imagery to recreate a high pressure cricket match, or get your friends to try and distract you. Measure your focus by analysing practice and put key words in place that bring your focus back to your key actions.
4. Mindfulness Practice. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment on purpose. Find ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life as well as on the field for best results. Some examples of mindfulness practice include mindful breathing, mindful body scan, notice 5 things.
For more information on how to include attention training as part of your preparation, contact Rachel on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on Facebook or at our website www.mentalnotesconsulting.com.au.