Reality is that we are bound to get distracted at one point or another. Let’s face it, it is extremely difficult to be 100% focused throughout the entire competition. Even if we have the good intention to put all our efforts toward a goal, something out of our control will most likely cause us to lose our concentration, even if is for a brief moment.
Maybe a teammate of yours got injured, the referee made a surprising bad call that favored the opponent or a fan/parent started yelling from the sidelines. It is completely out of your control what happens to other people. But, you can only control you.
One way to help you regain focus and bring your mind back to task is to practice the use of cue words that have a specific meaning for you. For example, the word “now” may imply to place your concentration to the current task; “let’s go” may be used to get your juices going when performance is flat; “strong legs” may motivate you to continue running hard despite feeling tired.
Whatever your mind believes, your mind perceives it. It is a matter of practicing, just like you practice your technical skills or physical endurance. Equally important, practice your mind skills to improve performance.
When your mind starts wandering, then:
1- Prepare a list of cue words that you can readily use to help you stir your focus to the right direction;
2- Everybody will have a break in their concentration; the key is how we bounce back. The better mentally prepare you are, the better your edge over your opponent.