Do You Get Distracted Easily During A Game?
Do you get distracted and emotionally-charged when heckled by the opposition’s fans?
Are you distracted and taken out of your game when you perform in a hostile environment?
All great athletes have developed their ability to focus in adverse conditions. The ability to cope with distractions when performing is a hallmark of elite athletes…
However, the ability to focus 100% is not always easy.
The jeers, taunts and boos from spectators can become so loud that it may seem impossible to ignore.
Have you ever seen ball players shooting a free throw with the opposing fans screaming, jumping and waving objects to distract them?
When you focus on your distractions, you:
- Bring the distraction into your mind
- Experience negative emotions
- Lose focus on what’s important
There is a reason spectators try to distract athletes… because often they can get in an athlete’s head.
Think of an annoying salesperson trying to get you to buy something you absolutely don’t need… You can’t totally avoid the person… The salesperson is trying to get your attention.
The key is to not engage the salesperson. When they ask, “Can I have a minute of time,” your response should be a short, “Not right now!”
If you give outside distractions permission, they dominate your focus of attention.
The same is true for sports… You will definitely be aware of the tone of the crowd but you don’t have to invite them into your mental space.
You should never give outside distractions more than a “Not right now.”
Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was heckled all game long by Dallas Maverick fans in his first game in Dallas since rescinding his word to sign a free agent contract with the Mavericks this summer.
Maverick fans held up signs that read “42% FT shooter – 100% coward” and loudly booed Jordan every time he touched the ball.
Jordan expected the negative response by the hostile crowd.
“They’re obviously going to boo and heckle a little bit but I thought it was going to be a lot worse, said Jordan.”
Jordan focused on his job and the team’s game plan instead of trying to show up the fans. “Ultimately, we came out here to win a basketball game and that was it.”
Though the Mavericks won 118-108, Jordan finished the game with nine points and 11 rebounds; both close to his season averages.
Jordan was aware of the tone of the crowd but didn’t feed into the negativity or allow it to distract him from his job on the court:
“My job is to be a defender and a rebounder, a stopper for our team. I felt like I did what I was supposed to.”
Mental Game Tips for Overcoming a Hostile Crowd
Focusing on your game plan is the most important task. You want to learn to refocus when you get away from your mission.
When you become increasingly aware of the crowd, say to yourself, “Not right now” then ask yourself: What’s my mission right now?
Learning to refocus is a mental skill that every athlete should have in the mental skill tool box.
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