Controlling Your Focus in Games
Athletes under perform all the time in sports…
Sometimes when you play against a team or opponent with a lower rank, you may underestimate them to take the game too lightly.
In a tournament elimination format, you may look past that lower ranked opponent and focus on your next match-up or a more formidable opponent.
You erroneously believe that the result is a foregone conclusion when playing what you think is a weaker opponent.
That is when the unexpected happens: You take an opponent for granted and give them a mental edge.
In fact, the other team has nothing to lose and often tries to rise to the occasion and set the tone early in the game…
Soon, you find yourself down early in the game and desperation sets in. You begin to panic and you make more mistakes than usual.
Upsets happen in sports when you don’t give the opposition respect!
Upsets occur in every sport and it’s often a matter of focus, confidence, and complacency.
In baseball, you may be facing a team with a losing record and your mind vaults to that rival game later in the week…
In tennis, playing a lower ranked opponent, you might overlook your opponent and focus on a semi-final opponent…
In gymnastics, you might think you have a medal wrapped up and just go through the motions in your last event…
All these examples move your focus from the present to the future.
Focusing on the future causes you to give less than 100 percent effort and focus in your current match up. This is when you find yourself behind in the competition and in catch-up mode… and, before you know, you have given away the game.
How do you avoid the upset?
While you cannot control the other team playing up a notch, you can control your level of focus and effort.
You need to be able to prepare the same way for every team, every game and every competition. Your focus must be on the opposition that is in front of you.
In fact, the most important game, match or competition is the one you are competing in the present.
Controlling your focus is the key to not giving away games.
The University of Notre Dame, the fifth seed, faced 12-seed Princeton University in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame senior V.J. Beachem was aware that there are upsets every year in the NCAA Tournament and understands that focusing on the present game is of ultimate importance to make sure you’re not on the wrong side of that upset.
V.J. BEACHEM: “I think the number one thing is treating every opponent with respect regardless of our seed or their seed or anything like that. You know, I think a lot of people were talking about our seed on Sunday when it came out, as far as the 12-5 match-up. But behind closed doors, we aren’t worried about that at all. We just want to go out there and play our game regardless of who we’re playing against regardless, when it is, and wherever it is.”
This applies to every athlete in every sport. Take heed and focus on your game in the present moment and give your opposition respect.
Tips for Playing Well Against Underdogs
Understand that upsets happen, especially when you underestimate the competition.
To maintain your focus in the present, create a game plan for this specific competition or opponent, focus on your game plan and execute your game plan.
Get up for the game! Don’t take the opposition lightly. Use the pregame warm up to get your game face on with the correct level of intensity you need to focus well in the game.
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