Mental Game Tips for Focusing During Long Competitions

Competition Focus

Focusing During Game Time

Focusing is an important mental game skill, but it’s hard to maintain focus over a long period of time.

So many distractions can invade your mind during a long competition such as fatigue, starting off the competition poorly, your opponent’s level of performance, etc.

How many times has your focus wandered off during a long competition?

You can give in to those distractions or choose to adjust.

Most athletes do have the ability to focus well, but they struggle in longer events.

The truth is focusing is a skill and you can improve. How can you learn to pay attention to the “right things” for longer periods of time?

Four-time Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall competed in her first Olympics at the age of 19 and her longevity in the sport is proof of her strong mental game.

Randall competes in long races, the 10-kilometer, 15-kilometer and 30-kilometer events, and has a unique strategy to improve her focus for long periods of time.

RANDALL: “If I break the longer distances into pieces in my mind, it becomes surprisingly manageable. The best reference I ever heard on how to race a (30-kilometer) was from a coach who said to think of it like a book. Every few kilometers you’ll go through different chapters — some will be good chapters; some will be bad chapters. But through it all, you just think about getting to the next chapter.”

In the early chapters of her races, Randall repeats a few cue words, “quick,” “flow” and “relax” to herself to keep herself in the groove.

RANDALL: “I pick out a few key words before the race that if I feel like I’m getting distracted or negative, I can remind myself of those key words… Just repeating a few of those words over and over again can bring my mind back.”

In the middle of the race, Randall focuses on strategy which helps her push the pace. At the end of the race, Randall focuses on emptying the tank.

RANDALL: “It’s definitely painful and you’re focused and in the moment of what you’re doing. But it’s cool to get to those later stages of the race where you’re really try to get every bit of your effort out.”

By breaking up the race into sections, you can improve your focus in each section of the event.

The strategies employed by Randall also help her regain her focus when counter-productive thoughts invade her mind.

Also, keep in mind that the mind can also get fatigued, just like the body does in longer events.

Tips for Improving your Focus in Competition:

–Review past races or competitions and identify the points in your race where and when you lost focus.

Divide your race in manageable chunks and create a focusing plan according to those “chapters” of your race.

Know what’s relevant to focus on for each section of the race. Be aware of your top distractions and be ready to refocus.

Keep in mind that all athletes will lose focus occasionally. But how quickly you get back on track is the key to a strong mental game.

Related Sports Psychology Articles

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!

Learn more about our one-on-one mental game coaching.

The Focused Athlete

It’s probably no secret that you have many opportunities to become distracted in sports. Athletes are bombarded with both internal and external distractions everyday in practice and competition. Focused athletes are able to get the most from their skills because they are more efficient with practice and more concentrated in competition. Athletes who lack focus let distractions run wild through their mind and don’t know how to adjust or refocus.

The Focused Athlete was developed for any level coach, parent, or junior to professional athlete who wants to improve performance and gain a competitive edge. It does not matter if you are a fledgling junior athlete; or a seasoned professional, plagued with distractions; or you just wanting to learn how to improve concentration…

“The Focused Athlete” is a complete system to teach you how to focus like a champion and harness the power of a zone focus every time you step on the playing field, court, track, or course in practice and games!

Leave a Comment