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Pay Attention to Your Attention

What we pay attention to during a game, or even practice, can really take control of how well we do.

Read on to learn how your Attention really controls your performance.

Have you ever gone from throwing strikes to suddenly walking everyone? Or from hitting really well to suddenly swinging and missing everything? If so then you’re normal – it happens to everyone. But, not everybody knows why it happens or more importantly, how to fix it.

Let’s take a quick look – literally – at how our attention, or more specifically what we’re visually and mentally focusing on, can really change how we play. Let’s say you’re a pitcher and you’re practicing with your catcher in the bullpen and you’ve been hitting your targets pretty good. Then all of a sudden, your pitches start going all over the place – so you start freaking out wondering what’s wrong. No doubt if a coach or even parent is near you the first thing everyone starts to do is tell you physical things to change…get your landing posture upright, move your hand farther forward, make sure you’re striding at the target…you know all the things they’ll tell you.

target pay attention focus small bored tired distracted

But, what if it isn’t something physical at all? What if it’s as simple as you were paying pretty close attention to your target when you were pitching good, and then you got a little tired, so your vision and attention softened – and got bigger. So now you’re still hitting your target, it’s just that your target has gotten A LOT bigger. Here’s an example of what I mean.

The picture on the left labeled “The Target” shows how small your attention and focus was when you were hitting your target. Makes sense, doesn’t it since your attention is “the target”. But for some reason, and it’s usually one of 3 things: (1) we get bored, (2) we get tired, (3) we get distracted – whatever the reason, our attention changes and gets bigger. That means that our target also gets bigger.

forward pay attention shift tired target

We go from looking at something very specific like the glove (or the pitcher’s mid-thigh if we’re hitting), to looking at something much bigger – like looking forward (picture on the right). We still hit our target, it’s just that now our target is a WHOLE LOT BIGGER than just the glove.

This kind of attention shift happens often during the course of a game or practice so be aware of it. When you feel it happening to you step off the rubber (if you’re pitching), step out of the batter’s box (if you’re hitting), or refocus if you’re playing defense.

What you need to do is quickly locate a very small spot on the object you’re dealing with (like a part of the glove if you’re a pitcher, the middle of the pitcher’s ball-side leg if you’re a hitter, and the strike zone if you’re a defensive player) – and get control of your focus. Players, start paying attention to your attention and you’ll be a whole lot more successful. Good luck out there!

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