USING YOUR HEAD TO ALIGN WITH YOUR FEET
What an individual pays attention to before or during an event drastically impacts his or her performance. Effective concentration is simply choosing to focus on the right things at the right time; however this is easier said than done. The human mind is a terrific time traveler, constantly engaged in past or future events. In fact, a recent study estimates that 60 percent of our thoughts are future oriented while another 30 percent are related to things that have already happened. If an individual is thinking ahead or about what's in the rear view, he or she can not be thinking about the most important time: right now! Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel summed it up by saying, “if your head and butt are not in the same place at the same time than you're in trouble.” He's right, but how to we train our minds to stay in the present moment with all of the distractions at bay?
The pre-workout supplement 1MR stands for “one more rep” and states that its product, “helps you stay focused and establish better mind-muscle connection.” Instead of taking a supplement to improve your concentration/focus, try tapping into the power of your own mind and practice 1 M (mindfulness) R (routines).
Have you ever been reading a book or engaged in a conversation when you “came to” and realized you were not paying attention? Mindfulness can help you stay in the moment and can be trained or enhanced by simply concentrating on your breathing. To begin a mindfulness practice, try using the 6-2-7 (inhale-hold-exhale) formula and try to complete 15 consecutive breaths only thinking about your breathing. If your mind starts to wander off, that's ok, just take notice and bring your attention right back to your breath. Similar to the weight room, your brain gets stronger every time you perform a repetition of bringing your attention back to your breath.
In the moment individuals have the tendency to succumb to self-imposed barriers (both internal or external) due to a wandering mind. Have you ever returned from the grocery store only to realize you forgot the one thing you went for? Mental Routines are the “grocery list” of mental skills and allow individuals to prepare in advance the necessary steps to achieve success. I once drove a truck in the tourism industry and before I was allowed to pick up any passengers, I was required to manually inspect the truck using a pre-determined checklist. This ensured I would not forget/overlook anything and gave us the best chance of reaching our goal (arriving at our destination safely). When creating your own pre-performance routine you should also start with the end in mind. You must decide what needs to be done and then prior to performance simply remind yourself of these things. A great trick is to use keywords, phrases, or actions on how to best perform the task at hand. A common example is a basketball player who uses the acronym B-E-E-F (balance, eyes, elbow, follow through) to focus on the process of how to make a free throw; rather than the outcome itself (a made basket). This process reduces thinking, curves anxiety and gives the performer the best chance to succeed.