Concentration and Focus….a Critical Part of Mental Toughness

altIdeally, you want to get into a state of TOTAL CONCENTRATION and FOCUS on the court because that is when you play your best. Concentration is total awareness, giving your undivided or fixed attention to the game. Focus is the narrowing of concentration onto a specific thought, idea, or object to a central point. In other words, you concentrate on the game and focus on the ball and your opponent.

The more you play, the easier it is to hold your concentration. When you are getting ready for an important tournament, league match, or game, you want to play lead-up tournaments or matches just to get your focus and concentration into shape for the upcoming big event. We call this “tournament toughness,” or “TT.”

Some matches last more than 90 minutes, and it is great training to get your brain to concentrate on the match and focus on the ball for that length of time. When you are totally one with the ball, we call it the “cocoon of concentration.” You use pinpoint focus (seeing the center of the racquetball) and broad focus (seeing the whole court) during your match. Practicing trains your brain to do this more easily.

Just like a great forehand shot is a learned physical skill, focus and concentration are learned mental skills. When you lose your concentration, step back and try your on-court rituals, like telling yourself to relax or doing a monkey slump (rolling your shoulders over while letting your ams hang down to release tension) to put you back in the game. Think about other sports too. In basketball, the coach takes a time-out when the players seem to lose concentration, and he tells the players to relax and refocus. In tennis, the players sit in their chairs, towel off, and relax and regroup. Racquetball players can take the time to regroup and refocus as well. There is nothing worse than continuing to play poorly instead of stopping yourself to recommit to your game plan. Take a time out, a water break, re-tie your shoes…anything to STOP the bad momentum!

Use the techniques in my book “Championship Racquetball”, Chapter 9, “Maintaining mental Toughness” P. 228-229.

Here’s how my Championship Team and Junior Championship Team utilize these techniques:

Rocky Carson

At The Krowning Moment Pro Invitation and the Bob Cat Open in San Marcos, TX October 22-24, 2015 Rocky was playing Sebastian Franco in the semi-finals. Rocky was leading the match 2-0 in games but was down 1-7 in the 3rd game. I could see he was losing his concentration and focus as he was just floating balls with no thought behind anything he was doing. Rocky took a timeout and I sent him a text and then we chatted. I reminded him to do his rituals and relax so he could refocus. Rocky did just that as Sebastian did not score another point and Rocky won the 3rd game, 11-7, and the match 3-0.

Paola Longoria

At the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada July 19-26, 2015, Paola was playing Rhonda Rasjich for the Gold Medal in the Team Competition. Paola beat Rhonda pretty easily in the first game 15-6 and was leading 10-6 in the second game. It looked as if Paola was on her way to an easy victory, but Rhonda had other plans and started serving well and Paola lost her concentration and focus. At 12-12 Paola took a timeout and we chatted as I was at the event. I reminded her to do her rituals and to relax so she could refocus. Magaly, her sports psychologist, also gave her a few words of advice. Paola came back in a totally new player with the eye-of-tiger again, had FULL concentration and focus, and won 15-13 to win the match, 2-0, and the Gold Medal.

Wayne Antone; Mitchell Turner; Jordan Cooperrider

(2015 Junior National Team members)

These players are utilizing all of the above and are a work in progress. They KNOW just how important it is to “Concentrate and Focus”, as they are learning from Rocky and Paola…2 of the best.

Learning how to “Concentrate and Focus…A Mental Toughness Tool” is yet another required skill on the road to championship racquetball. ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to “Concentrate and Focus.” It’s not easy to do, but a MUST. Rocky and Paola are BOTH 2 of the most decorated athletes in racquetball.  Paola finished the 2014-2015 ranked #1 on the LPRT for the 4th consecutive season and was crowned 4X World Champion, the Central American Champion and the 2X Pan American Champion. Also, now 6X US Open Champion. Rocky finished the 2014-2015 IRT Season ranked #2 on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and is 4X World Champion. 2X Pan American Champion and 1X US Open Champion..

In the next issue, I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of becoming, by giving you the tools to make it a reality. Rocky and all my athletes “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.
For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, Championship Racquetball, and our APP (coming soon), ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit www.FranDavisRacquetball.com. Fran Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee; Racquetball Woman of the Year 2009; Coach #2 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Player / 1X US Open Champion / 4X and present World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 6X and present US Open Champion & World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Jordan Cooperrider, Wayne Antone & Mitchell Turner; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.  

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