Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Athletes, coaches know the power of focusing

December 20, 2000

Focus is probably the most important quality an athlete can possess. It's also one of the most difficult qualities for a coach to teach.

Actually, coaches reinforce rather than teach.

Focus is much like talent in that both come naturally to some degree. But, like talent, focus can be increased if an athlete is given proper direction.

"Block out the crowd." "Get your head in the game." "Don't worry about the defender, just shoot the shot." "Just watch for his hip to move." "Keep your eye on the ball." "Look it in." These are a few directions coaches give athletes to help them focus on the right things.

Coaches probably do this because they know that every big success is built on the backs of several smaller ones and that those smaller success were, in turn, built upon the backs of still smaller, more numerous successes.

Four games can't be won with out first having won three. None of those games could have been won without players focusing on the little things that win games.

For example, in one pass play in football, every player is focused on his personal battle.

The center must focus on snapping the ball and picking up his blocking assignment. The two guards and tackles must focus on picking up theirs.

The quarterback must focus on taking the snap cleanly, faking a handoff to the halfback, rolling out of the pocket to avoid being sacked and finding and hitting a receiver who is streaking up the sideline.

All the other receivers are focused on running their routes, drawing defenders with them.

The halfback is focused on making the handoff look like a real running play. The fullback is focused on the same thing, plowing through the two-hole to fake a lead block for the halfback faking the run.

And the open receiver is focused and ready to receive the pass.

If he loses focus and starts thinking about what's going on after the game or how tired he is or the rock in his shoe, he'll probably miss the game-winning touchdown pass spiraling toward him.

On the other hand, if he is focused on his route, his spacing from the defender and the quarterback, he'll get to the ball. If he focuses on looking it in, he'll probably catch it, take two steps for the touchdown and be the hero.

It doesn't take too much of a loss of focus to change the entire outcome of a game, but focus goes deeper than that.

Much more goes on in a game than you or I see. We may see some of the little battles, and we assume the players were focused if the results are good.

In reality, though, athletes will never make gains in games simply by focusing on that day's particular battle. Before they even get to the battlefield, they must have focused on doing the things that would help them win it.

True focus begins before the season with early conditioning, staying away from harmful substances or activities and encouraging both in younger team members.

When the season begins, players focus on gelling with one another. In the early season, coaches work to build unity focus from the team perspective.

Once fully aware and focused on the team concept, players can begin to learn their roles within that concept.

They learn that they must be focused on goals conducive to the team achieving its goals or they are hurting, and not helping, the team.

Tonganoxie is lucky to have players who have focus and coaches who understand its importance.

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