Focus. Mindfullness. Meditation. Regen.
In youth sports the most important thing for an athlete to be able to do is focus. Without focus an athlete will never really discover their true ability. At the youth age, athletes are all growing and developing at different rates. However, the thing that sets good youth athletes apart is their ability to focus, and put all of their attention into what they are doing.
To be fair, the same is true of most professional athletes. When the game is on the line it’s the more focused athletes that prevail. You could say it is because they have better abilities than other athletes but, that athlete was not born with those abilities, they made a conscious choice to put the effort, time and necessary focus to gain those abilities.
Wait, we can improve our abilities with focus? Yes, anything we put time and effort into we will get better at, including focus.
How can we improve our focus? We live in a distracted society. Everything is designed to stimulate and constantly bombard us with things, and information. Our bodies never fully get a chance to relax from information and stress overload. You are like your computer. When you work on the computer you can operate one window pretty well maybe two or three, but when you have many windows and tabs open its hard to get anything done. Even the computer can’t handle it sometimes, and has to shut everything down or turn off so it can run efficiently again. A computer has an on and off/reboot switch. Where or what is our reboot switch?
So what is this magic switch that can shut down our body and allow it to focus, and operate more efficiently? Meditation. The way I can describe meditation is the practice of focusing or being aware of your breath. That’s it only that. Pay attention, be aware of your breath, the life sustaining process. There are tons of way to meditate, but the easiest way to think about it is to bring your attention to your breathing.
Just try and do that for a few minutes, and only focus on your breathing. Breathe all the way in and out. It is harder than you think, to just sit there and count your breaths. All it takes is a few minutes a day! You can reset your nervous system, and escape all the stress of your life by just focusing on your breath.
We can use different breathing techniques to calm us down and relax us. We can also use different techniques to amp us up and energize to focus us on the task at hand.
A great technique to calm yourself down and focus is box breathing. You can use 4 seconds to start. You breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds. Breathe out for 4 seconds. Hold 4 seconds. Repeat. In the beginning try to get 10 rounds or so in.
This is also a good technique to use if you have had a stressful day. Take a few box breaths to let go of whatever just happened, and remain focused on what you can do! Use your breath as a reset button to help you block out distractions and remain focused for your best performance. You can do it! Try it out!