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Mental factors that impact performance

Watch this to investigate mental factors that impact performance for Higher PE (and why Tiger didn’t break)

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Try and imagine the pressure.

Tiger Woods on the 18th at Atlanta in 2019 lining up his final shot. The crowd is in complete silence. Everything he has dreamt of is in his hands. From being on top of the world as a young man, he suffered disgrace, arrest, infidelity, and total loss of professional form for years.

This was his moment back. If he can putt the final shot he wins and he is restored. But one fraction of a degree out and it is gone. His chance lost forever.

What can athletes do to sustain themselves through these situations?

In this episode we shall take a closer look at the mental sub factor of concentration, and explore visualisation as a mental approach to improve performance.

So give me your full concentration

This is think four.

Concentration is the ability to stay on task and completely focus your attention on something for a period of time.

Athletes concentrate well when they can take in all the information they need to make good decisions like responding to their opponent or adapting to their environment. They can train themselves to hold out distraction – the fans, the opponents, the pressure – and to focus on the process they know so well.

Different sports require different time frames of concentration. This can be referred to as sustained concentration- tennis, cycling, distance running. Short bursts of concentration- cricket, shooting, athletic field events. Intense concentration- sprinting events and skiing.

Let’s look at an example of how positive concentration can be used in writing for Higher PE:

A response might read:

High levels of sustained concentration helped me when performing one-to-one defence in basketball. This was because I was able to focus completely on the movements of my opponent and block out the movements of others on the court. This man-marking was a required part of the game plan and critical for our success. This approach led to me staying tight to my opponent and denying him space over long periods of time and limiting their attacking options. When a pass came into him, I was therefore able to put him under pressure and force an error to regain possession for my team.

Let’s review a different kind of example where concentration limited performance:

I did not show the required level of short burst intense concentration needed when fielding at Cover. Having picked up the ball from a powerful forward drive, I lost focus on the sub routines of my throw as I got distracted by the movements of the batter trying to get back to the stumps in time. This led to my throw lacking accuracy and landing short and on the opposite side of the wicker keeper to the stumps. The batsman made safe and the chance of a wicket was missed.

Both examples highlight the importance of this sub factor and how it can impact upon performances.

By forming a mental image of a scenario and imagining in their mind’s eye each part of an action, athletes use visualization to improve performance.

Visualisation is a habit that you practice every day, but should also be used before, during and after training.

Before competition mentally run through your plan, focusing on any significant plays, skills, movements and reactions or any feelings you want to use during your performance.

Breaking the skill down into its component parts and imagining success creates a positive attitude towards achieving performance goals.

In golfd for example, where the margins of error are so small, golfers often use visualisation to improve their success rates, particularly around green putting. They practice in training, focusing on the sub routines and visualise the correct sequence of movements and imagine a successful outcome. These images are then called upon when they are about to take their shot in the competition situation.

So, Tiger Woods made it of course.

He holed his put and took his 15th major title. He absorbed the mental pressure, called upon his countless hours of mental preparation, and followed his sub-routines.

Developed concentration and visualization is needed in every sport imaginable, and, I would argue, it is also needed for Higher PE too.

So close your eyes and start visualizing that A grade.

This was thinkfour. Thanks for watching.