Wandering Minds Want to Know
Over the course of the past couple of months I have had the great pleasure to work with a wonderful, enthusiastic, and driven group of throwers through my Holistic Coaching program at Forza Athletics. The feedback I have received from the athletes that are participating has been extremely helpful in ensuring that I am offering them the best mindset and mental preparation support possible. To assist these athletes along their journeys, we have had some frank and delicate conversations. One such topic that has come up with multiple throwers has been about engagement in competition.
As you might have guessed, I keep specific notes about each conversation I have with each thrower. Since the outdoor season has started, a topic that has been repeated in conversation has been focused on engagement, or rather lack of engagement in competition. This was not a topic that came up during the indoor season.
After four different athletes made reference to the topic, I engaged deeper, trying to discern what they meant by lack of engagement in competition. The surrounding details are to be kept confidential, but hearing their stories makes me think that others might benefit from the strategies I shared with them in conversation. It also leads me to believe that lack of engagement in competition is not something that only happens to elite level throwers, but to a majority of throwers with varying levels of ability.
Strategies to Combat Lack of Engagement During Competition
1. Recognize Our Thoughts
I’ll be one of the first to admit that attending track meets can at times be quite boring if you let it. There is so much happening around the track and in the field events that there is a lot to pay attention to.
When the initial thought(s) of boredom or lack of engagement begins to creep in, be able to recognize this is happening. Then ask yourself why you might be feeling this way? What is happening or not happening around you that has caused you to lose interest in what is happening? It is ok to have this thought, we are human.
2. Intentionality - You Give Power to What You Focus On
After you recognize this thought, bring yourself back to thoughts of purpose. Why are you here competing? What excites you most about competing? Take two or three deep breaths and become more mindful in the present moment. Take in the experience that is happening at that moment, not what has happened in the past or what you might be thinking about happening in the future, but what is happening in that moment.
Attentional control is all about being locked on to the right things at the right time. It is a purposeful process. When we think about performance and executing when it matters most, we have to bring our minds back to the current moment because this is where the performance is happening.
3. Your Why
When you bring your mind back to the competition, think about your purpose and why you are competing. Think about your aspirations and what you want to accomplish this season. You may have a technical cue you are working on, bring your emphasis back to that specific objective for the meet.
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.