The ability to concentrate in the present and to focus on the task is very important in achieving peak performance in sports. During a 2-3 hour competition, an athlete will switch his or her concentration on and off repeatedly with the ebb and flow of competition. Turning concentration on and off makes it more difficult to get into a rhythm. Total concentration occurs when an athlete becomes totally involved in the task, feels that time is suspended, and loses the sense of being separate from his or her surroundings. Thus, keen focus during competition has the following five basic elements:
1. The ability to direct attention to a relevant object, thought, or feeling
2. A present tense orientation or here and now focus
3. The ability to deflect or ignore distractions, irrelevant thoughts
4. The ability to refocus on the relevant cues when distracted
5. The ability to fix or narrow attention
The Three R’s intervention can be applied to help athlete to stay focused on the present moment and let go of results. This intervention helps athletes regain focus when off-task by taking the following steps:
1. Recognize when they are off task and take action.
2. Regroup by interrupting their train of thought and preparing to refocus.
3. Refocus by directing their attention back to execution.
The first step to changing their focus is to recognize that they are thinking about or paying attention to something that is not relevant. For example, recognizing that they are thinking ahead about future outcomes, “What if they score on me and we lose?” The next step is for athletes to regroup by interrupt the train of thought that is causing them to focus on irrelevant cues. For example an athlete may say, “stop thinking about the end of the game or if you win or lose because that won’t help you right now.” The last and most important step is to refocus on the present task. Athletes can do this by asking themselves: “What do I need to focus on right now to perform and execute my best?”