The following article was written for WHISTLE STOP Newsletter published by AYSO.
Focus is a common topic, not only in sports, but also in life. The key is to do your best to stay focused on the task at hand, remain in the moment, and redirect your mind back to that task at hand when it starts to wander.
Many common causes that can contribute to the loss of focus are known as internal and external distractions. Internal distractions can be things such as thoughts, heart rate, feelings, and/or emotions. External distractions can be things like fans, coaches, players, or weather. It's important to take note on what causes you to lose focus so it can be addressed on the fly.
Below are a few tips to help you focus or refocus during a game:
Pre-game walk through. In your pre game prep, walk the field and identify a place on or around that field that can become your refocusing go to that day. For example, one of the corner flags, a tree behind one of the goals, or even the whistle in your hand. Commit to these visuals as the thing that will bring your focus back to the task at hand when you need it.
Work together with your crew. Before the game, get together and chat with your fellow referees about your game plan and preferences. Being on the same page can help you stay focused on your role that day.
Focus cue word. Before you even step on the field, identify a cue word or phrase that can help redirect your focus. For example, something as simple as "focus" or something like "here and now" can help trigger you to focus on what you want and when you need it.
Breathe. Sounds simple, but sometimes a few deep breaths can trigger you back to focusing on the moment. Breathing can help you relax between plays (stoppages, half time, etc) and give you the opportunity to check your surroundings. Pairing your breathing with you cue word or phrase can really make a big difference.
Stay in the moment. Your job is to facilitate the rules and integrity of the game and the safety of the players. Because making calls are part of your role, own the ones you make. Dwelling on past calls keep you stuck in past moments and unable to be present in the now. Make a call, own it, move on. Leave it in the past so it doesn't influence your present and future.
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about life and I keep coming back to this concept of perspective. It's becoming more and more clear to me that perspective is super important. The outlook we have about situations can affect how we think, feel and behave.
For example, some see setbacks as a negative, some see them as opportunities for growth. Perspective.
Some would see losing a job as a door closing, others might say one door had to close so another could open. Perspective.
Fear of failure? How about embracing challenges. Hate making mistakes? How about accepting mistakes as necessary steps to learning and improvement. Hate traffic? What about a reminder to slow down sometimes. Perspective, perspective, perspective.
This concept comes up a lot in the work I do with clients. What is another way to view the situation? Is that perspective helping me or hurting me? If it's more harmful, why not change to a perspective more useful! I'm sure you've heard of the analogy, "The glass is half full or the glass is half empty." Which side do you tend to lie on? I'm more of a glass half full kind of person overall, but I definitely have my days where that glass is half empty for sure. And that's normal. As long as I can eventually get myself back to the glass half full side.
Positive perspectives can help us approach a situation, challenge, or experience with energy, motivation, and balance. Negative perspectives can leave us with fear, anxiety, and low motivation towards a task or experience. To me the choice seems an easy one, to choose a positive outlook. But I know it's easier said and done.
So here are some tips I follow and share with my clients:
Ask yourself these questions...
Why do I have this perspective?
Is this perspective useful?
Is there another outlook that would suit me and this situation better?
An exercise I like to do myself and with clients is called Bad News, Good News. It challenges us to look a situations from another perspective. For example, let's say I was late to a work meeting. I might say, the bad news is that I was late, but the good news is that I know what time to leave next time.
Here are a few more examples of how to use the Bad News, Good News exercise:
The bad news is that my serve in tennis went way passed the baseline. The good news is that I know what adjustments to make for my next serve.
The bad news is that my friend had to reschedule our hang out for tomorrow night and I was really looking forward to it. The good news is that we are going to meet up a few days later instead!
The bad news is that practice was cancelled today. The good news is that I can use this time to train my brain!
Give it a try and see what you think! Challenge your perspective when you feel it's too negative or has a debbie downer feel to it. Once you get the hang out of, I think you'll like the affects it has on your life!
Until next time.....
Katie (McKee) Lovallo
Hey! I'm Katie, and I specialize in Mental Performance. I believe greatly in mindset and the role it plays in life.