Focus. For elite athletes that is the name of the game. Focus is the biggest gap among competitors. The test appears during the most stressful conditions, during competition. Why? Well, it is easier to focus when you are practicing. The situation is a lot more relaxed with reduced pressure. It is during those high pressure moments, when you are competing to win, that your abilities, including your focus, are put to the test.
Tom has the mechanics to be a professional pitcher. He has a strong arm, communicates well with the catcher and throws well. His teammates respect him and he has earned his position as a starting pitcher. His biggest challenge is being unable to regain focus when he has a bad start. When Tom has a poor start, giving away too many hits, his inner critic steps in to point out his faults.
Tom realizes these thoughts are distracting him, causing him to lose control of the game. Battling his inner critic is draining, causing his performance to suffer. As his frustration increases, his focus decreases.
Focus is typically considered a point of concentration. This definition, however, is too general. To fully comprehend its scope and use it to your advantage its meaning must be expanded. Athletes continuously assess specific factors prior, as well as during, their competition. Their observations influence their performance.
While processing everything, athletes are also aware of internal cues. The external and internal information they receive is taken into consideration. A delicate relationship exists between the different types of focus.

• Wide External is a broad perspective, scoping things out.
• Wide Internal is an athletes strategy
• Specific Internal visualizes approach, preparing for execution.
• Specific External lasers in on the focus point.
Tom utilized this knowledge to strengthen his mindset. Instead of continuing to allow critical thoughts to influence his performance he was ready to take charge, developing a new approach when he was on the mound.
By following the proper sequence, Tom improved his concentration.
First, Tom would get an overview with a wide external focus. Which bases had runners and whether the next batter was right or left handed.
Next, for his wide internal focus, he decides his pitch selection.
Before he steps onto the pitchers rubber he goes through his specific internal focus routine. Tom vividly visualizes himself confidently throwing his pitch exactly how and where he wants it.
Finally, Tom steps onto the rubber. He sees the catcher’s signs and zones into his target.
Dwelling over previous pitches or anticipating left handed batters was a distraction. With continued practice Tom improves his ability to remain present, concentrating on one pitch at a time. As his focus improved, his confidence strengthened. Tom had developed the tools to put a poor start behind him. Focusing on the present pitch improved his performance.
Activity: Focus is a work in progress. It can always be improved. Think about your sport. Now look at the different types of focus. Using the sequential order from wide to specific, what would your mental game strategy look like? What do you look for before a race? Decide how that would affect your strategy. Learn to visualize your best performance prior to action. Finally choose, and commit, to your target. Try it out and see if you notice a difference.
High performance builds confidence. On the other hand, lack of confidence affects performance. Somehow you need to break the cycle to turn things around. The inner critic just interferes with your BIG goals.

Author's Bio: 

Follow Loren Fogelman during the sports mindset moment giving you tips for winning results through improved focus and confidence. Do you find yourself getting distracted when competing? It is easy to relax and focus during practice. Being able to perform under pressure, when competing, requires a focus and confidence. Discover the 4 types of focus, and how to apply them, for increased confidence and high performance. Receive your FREE Starter Kit "Top 7 Mistakes Even the Best Athletes Make." by going now to