Game Sense Continued – III

By | December 3, 2017

Learning to Shift Attention

Being able to shift your attention and knowing when to do it are two quite different issues.  You must first select the appropriate cues and then develop a timely shift of attention.

You may want to start by determining which shifts of attention focus are most difficult for you.  Complete Exercise 5 to test your own skills.

Exercise 5 – Understanding Your Ability to Shift Attention


Rate how effectively you feel you are able to shift your attention in each of the situations described by circling the appropriate number.

Rating Scale

1=Very Weak
5=Very Strong

1. Broad- Internal to Broad- External

Situation:  From analysing your coaching style to observe the player’s reactions.

Effectiveness:            1                     2                      3                      4                      5

2. Broad-Internal to Narrow-External

Situation:  From developing a game plan to thinking about the play of a potentially erratic player.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

3. Broad-Internal to Narrow-External

Situation:  From analysing the key roles on your management team to observing a particular player’s ability to perform a key role.

Effectiveness:        1                      2                      3                      4                      5

4. Broad-External to Broad-InternalSituation:  From watching a rugby game to mentally reviewing the effectiveness of your game plan.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

5. Broad-External to Narrow-Internal

Situation:  From coaching a close game to thinking about what has to be done to optimise the chances of success.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

6. Broad-external to Narrow-External

Situation:  From watching a game on TV to focusing on the logistics in preparation for the ensuing game.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

7. Narrow-Internal to Broad- Internal

Situation:  From focusing on your feeling of anxiety to scanning your body for signs of stress.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

8. Narrow-Internal to Broad-External

Situation:  From thinking about a pattern to watching the players perform it.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

9. Narrow-Internal to Narrow-External

Situation:  From thinking about a new pattern to watching a pivotal player perform a key role.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

10. Narrow-External to Broad-Internal

Situation: From listening to the advice of a mentor to integrating the information into your coaching method.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

11. Narrow-External to Broad-External

Situation:  From watching an individual player to watching the entire game movement develop.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

12. Narrow-External to Narrow-Internal

Situation:  From observing individual technique to thinking about implementing the game plan.

Effectiveness:            1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Total your score for all the items then check your ability to shift attention on the following scale:

Score Rating
60-54 You shift attention very effectively
53-47 You do a good job of shifting your attention when necessary
46-40 You are of average ability in shifting attention.  Try some of the suggestions presented below to remove some of the roadblocks to the ability to shift attention
39-33  You need to work on this skill.  You can do better
32 or below You have very weak attention shifting skills.  You need to make developing the ability to shift attention a priority.

Be sure to note which shifts were most difficult for you.  Give particular attention to improving your abilities on those shifts.

Several factors can inhibit your ability to shift attention.  You can avoid many of the problems by acknowledging that the roadblocks exist and taking steps to combat them.

Exercise 6 – Crashing Roadblocks

The purpose of this exercise is to explore ways to break down the barriers to effectively shifting attention.

Roadblocks to Shifting Attention

Several factors can inhibit your ability to shift attention.  You can avoid many of the problems by acknowledging that the roadblocks exist and taking steps to combat them.

Question:  What are the major roadblocks to the ability to shift attention?

Directions:  In the space below, note how stress and pain inhibit effective shifting of attention and list possible ways to control each.


How stress inhibits shifting of attention




Ways to control the effects 






How pain inhibits shifting of attention




Ways to control the effects





Stress acts as a road block to effectively shifting attention by forcing attention into an ineffective internal focus. Negative self-talk and worry are responsible for this shift.  The result is tunnel vision and scanning. To control the effects, develop stress management and psychic energy management skills.

Pain diverts attention away from the activity by way of the orienting response. Then stress mechanisms begin to function and attention shifts to thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. To control the effects of pain on attention you must first learn to distinguish between pain and discomfort. Pain is a signal to stop; you can perform through discomfort.  You must acknowledge discomfort and then direct your attention to task-relevant cues.  Learning stress management skills is also useful in crashing the roadblock of pain.

Concentration and Alertness

Concentration and Alertness are the two intensive aspects of attention. Concentration is the ability to sustain attention. Alertness is the awareness of stimuli in the environment. Being alert requires psychic energy.


The ability to concentrate is enhanced by learning to still or park the mind.  Prior to taking on any task requiring concentration, you should park any other intruding thoughts.  You can return to them after you have addressed the task at hand.  This ability, and the ability to concentrate improves with practice getting rid of mental baggage.

Exercise 7 – Evaluating Your Concentration

The purpose of this exercise is to allow you to evaluate your current ability to concentrate.  You may want to make additional copies of the grid below so that you can use this exercise to practice concentration as well.

Go to the grid and give yourself one minute to mark off as many consecutive numbers as possible starting with the number 00.

Directions:  Ask a friend to time you for one minute.  During that time period beginning with number 00, put a slash through as many consecutive numbers as possible.

84 27 51 78 59 52 13 85 61 55
28 60 92 04 97 90 31 57 29 33
32 96 65 39 80 77 49 86 18 70
76 87 71 95 98 81 01 46 88 00
48 82 89 47 35 17 10 42 62 34
44 67 93 11 07 43 72 94 69 56
53 79 05 22 54 74 58 14 91 02
06 68 99 75 26 15 41 66 20 40
50 09 64 08 38 30 36 45 83 24
03 73 21 23 16 37 25 19 12 63


Those who are skilled at concentrating, scanning, and storing information are able to find up to 20 or 30 numbers in the sequence.  If you are below that number, work on your concentration skills and periodically try the test again, starting at a different number.

You can also add distractors to challenge your ability.  Try the exercise while the television, stereo, or radio is turned on loud in the background, or ask someone to talk to you as you try the exercise.  Practice helps you to improve your concentration skills significantly.  Additional suggestions are provided in the acquisition phase section.


Having optimal alertness means managing concentration and psychic energy.  You must know when to concentrate and when to turn concentration off. In short events the problem is minimal.  But in long-duration events failure to break concentration can be devastating.  Think about your sport.  Should a coach and player maintain total concentration through the entire event, or should they periodically break concentration to conserve psychic energy?

Sprinters should maintain concentration throughout their event.  Long-distance runners or swimmers need to break their concentration periodically to avoid an ineffective draining of their psychic energy.  Gymnasts, wrestlers, and others who have breaks between competitive bouts must similarly break concentration between periods of activity.

The Education Phase Wrap-Up

The beginning of this unit has focused on the material you need to begin an attention training program.  Methods to evaluate their current level of attention were also presented.  Now we move to the educational phase.



Game Sense Continued – II

By | October 29, 2017

Exercise 3 – The Attention Demands of Playing


Read the basketball example below.

The players and coach use the information gathered about their position on the court  to analyse the situation and prepare for the likely outcome prior to the play commencing at the re-start.

This provides a context from which modifications can be made as play develops.

In chronological order cues that allow an accurate analysis to be made may be as follows. Many will be sub-conscious.

The situation is based on our team having just scored and is the reaction of the players and the coaches to the situation. Let’s say one player in particular but you would hope the others would tune in to the same degree.

  1. Do they attempt a fast break? – Broad / External.
  2. Have they passed to the point guard or is the player bringing the ball down a poor dribbler. Narrow / External.
  3. Look at their formation:
    • Who is on the periphery? Broad external.
    • Who is posting up on the edge of the key hole? Narrow / External.
    • Who is looking to spot up in their favourite long shooting position? Broad / External
  4. Looking at us:
    • How are we matching up? Broad / External
    • Where are the miss matches in our favour? Narrow / External.
    • Where are the miss matches in their favour? Narrow/ External.
    • How do we counter these? Narrow / Internal.
  5. As the clock counts down to 24secs:
    • How do we adjust to force a low percentage shot without conceding a foul? Broad / Internal.
    • How do we prevent a high percentage shot? Broad / Internal.
  6. How do we block out to prevent an attacking rebound allowing them to regain possession? Narrow / External.
  7. How quickly do we react to the shot going in? Broad / Internal.
  8. How quickly do we react to a defensive rebound that enables us to try a fast break? Broad/ External.
  9. Now we are on attack ask the same questions of us from an attacking point of view.

Read through the notes below and then indicate how each of the following attention demands are met in the particular situation.

Coaching players in the skill of attention demands

The attention demands of sport fall into four categories that correspond to the styles of attention.

The four types of attention required in sport are:

  • assessment
  • analysis
  • preparation
  • action

As you enter any rugby situation, you must in some way assess what is going on around you. Prior to the game you glance around the arena and notice as much about the field, it’s environment, the opposing team and match officials as your can.

Once the game commences assessment becomes an on-going activity.  Each time a team or player reacts you must assess that action. Therefore, assessment occurs during competition as well as prior to the start of the game.

Analysis can occur at many different times:

  1. It can take less than a second or continue for several minutes.
  2. Before the game you will analyse what patterns of play and game plan will be most effective for your team.
  3. During the competition you will need to react to the information you have gained through your assessment of a situation as the game unfolds. You need to then analyse your options and decide your course of action.
  4. After the game analyse your performance for future reference in an effort to learn from what has and hasn’t worked.

Preparation means putting the finishing touches on your mental preparation for the game.  You will have already assessed and analysed what you need to do.

In this stage, you mentally rehearse the skills and strategies you will need to be successful. Imagery should be used.


  1. Action requires you to examine the essential cues that occur during the game and determine which of your preparatory skills are most appropriate for each playing situation.
  2. It also requires you to concentrate on the immediate play.
  3. These situations will divide themselves into:
    1. Static situations that are, to a degree, predictable and in which you will be able to exert a lot of control, and
    2. Dynamic situations that are the ever-changing situations of general play. These are much more demanding and are most relevant to the result of the game.

Increasingly in rugby general play is occupying more and more of the 80 minutes and each individual episode lasts longer and longer. While there is usually no greater range of situations each of these occurs more frequently.

For the coach or a particular playing position take an episode that frequently occurs in a game and work through its attention demands on the worksheet below.

Coach – how to go about reacting to a deterioration in the weather that has occurred on game day.

Prop – after 4 scrums you recognise that you can dominate your opponent.

Second Five-Eighth/ Inside Centre – you have planned to attack 3-5 passes wide but you now recognise that the defence is drifting creating greater defensive numbers in this part of the field.

Episode Explanation




Explanation of Attention Demands

For each of assessment, analysis, preparation and action explain how these will be used to enhance performance.

Gather as much information about this situation before and during the game.




  1. The time for analysis varies from 1 second to 10 seconds.
  2. This is assisted by the comprehensive development of patterns of play and a game plan.
  3. During the game these enable the players to react in a flexible way to situation and the play of the opposition .
  4. After the game patterns and game plan enable modifications to be made systematically.
  5. This will lead to a practice plan that will improve the performance and create more options for the patterns and game plan.


How would analysis be met in this episode?




After assessing and analysing you will need pre-game rehearsal skills to cue the body and mind as one so that recall during the game ensures the speed and accuracy of decision making.

Examples of pre-game mental rehearsal:

  1. Goals – the most important are process goals followed by performance goals and finally outcome goals over which you have less control.
  2. Self talk and having a positive mental attitude.
  3. Mental attitude.
  4. Concentration
  5. Key factors.

How preparation would be met in this situation

Prioritise functional roles, outcome and key factors within the patterns of play.

Modify them based on the game plan.
Those of highest priority may be all you need to focus on as they may be all encompassing.
During the game use these to react to the opposition’s cues successfully.
Remember these cover immediate static and dynamic situations.

How would actions be met in this situation




What aspects of player’s position place greater demands and should be the focus of attention?

  1. _______________________________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________________________
  4. _______________________________________________________________

“Paralysis By Analysis”
One of the keys to successful attention control is performing each of the functions of assessment, analysis, preparation, and action at appropriate times.

“Paralysis by analysis” can easily occur if you get caught analysing when you should be in the action phase.  Such an error causes attention to be focused in the wrong hemisphere.

Remember, analysis takes place in the left hemisphere, whereas a smooth, integrated action sequence is controlled by the right hemisphere.  So we must strive to become more involved in the various attention activities at the appropriate times.

In continuous sports (those without breaks in the activity) the preparation phase should occur only prior to the start of the contest.  For others, the preparation phase may recur during the time between plays or events.

Understanding the attention demands of each situation makes performance more effective.

Even though the game is dynamic there are a limited number of frequently occurring situations that can be prepared for with some degree of certainty. If you understand the demands of these situations you will be more effective.

A checklist of the most common situations could well be:


Attack – with the ball.
Defence – without the ball.

Static Re-Starts

  • Kick re-starts including kicks at goal.
  • Scrums
  • Line-outs.

Dynamic Play

  • Contesting the high ball, kicking duels and counter attack.
  • Close quarter contact and turnovers leading to counter attack.
  • Attacks that get over the gain line.
  • Attacks that don’t get over the gain line.
  • Attacks that penetrate the defence.

Field Positions

  • Attack / defence in red zone.
  • Attack / defence in amber zone.
  • Attack / defence in green zone.
  • Attack / defence open side.
  • Attack / defence blind/narrow side.


Exercise 4  – Your Attention Skills

Having investigated the attention demands of at least some aspects of play, you have probably found that more than one focus of attention or attention style is required.

Open skills require considerable ability to shift attention because they necessitate a response to cues in the external environment, whereas closed skills require somewhat fewer shifts.  Regardless, the key to successful performance may well be the ability to shift attention at the appropriate times.

Take time to investigate your attention skills.

Completing the test below enables you to plot a profile of your attention style’s strengths and weaknesses. You are encouraged to use this test.  The results will be enlightening.

The purpose of this exercise is to create an awareness of your own attention abilities by formulating a profile of your skills. Complete the scale below then plot your scores on the graph provided.


  1. Complete the scale below by circling the number that best describes your response to the questions.
  2. Score the scale by following the procedures outlined.
  3. Plot your scores on the graph provided.

Rating Scale

0 =Never
1= Rarely
2 = Sometime
3 = Frequently
4 = Always

0 1 2 3 4
1. I am good at quickly analysing a complex situation such as how a play is developing and when to get into the line of traffic at a roundabout.. 0 1 2 3 4
2. In a room filled with children or on a playing field, I know what everyone is doing. 0 1 2 3 4
3. When people talk to me, I find myself distracted by the sights and sounds around me. 0 1 2 3 4
4. I get confused trying to watch activities such as a rugby game or circus where many things are happening at the same time. 0 1 2 3 4
5. All I need is a little information and I can come up with a large number of ideas. 0 1 2 3 4
6. It is easy for me to bring together ideas from a number of different areas. 0 1 2 3 4
7. When people talk to me, I find myself distracted by my own thoughts and ideas. 0 1 2 3 4
8. I have so many things on my mind that I become confused and forgetful. 0 1 2 3 4
9. It is easy for me to keep thoughts from interfering with something I am watching or listening to. 0 1 2 3 4
10. It is easy for me to keep sights and sounds from interfering with my thoughts. 0 1 2 3 4
11. I have difficulty clearing my mind of a single thought or idea. 0 1 2 3 4
12. In games I make mistakes because I am watching what one person does and I forget about the others. 0 1 2 3 4

 To score the scale, use the following key, give yourself 4 points if your answered always,

3 if you responded frequently,
2 for sometimes,
1 for rarely, and
0 points for a never response.

Add items 1 and 2 together and plot the score on the broad-external (BET) line of the graph in the graph.

Next, combine items 3 and 4 and plot them on the external overload (OET) line.
The total score for items 5 and 6 should be plotted on the broad-internal (BIT) line;
items 7 and 8 on the internal overload (OIT) line;
items 9 and 10 on the narrow effective focus (NAR) line, and
items 11 and 12 on the errors of underinclusion (RED) line.

Now, what does all of this mean?


BET______  OET_____  BIT_____  OIT _____  NAR_____  RED_____

Now place a dot on the graph below to indicate the placement of your scores.  When you have finished joining the dots and compare your graph to those sh

90 7 8
80 8 6 8 7 7 8
70 6 5 6 6 6 76
60  5  4  5  5  5  5
50  4
40 3 3 4 4 4 4
30 2 2 3 3 3 3
20 1 1 2 2 2 21
10 1 1 1

Note:  From The Inner Athlete (pp. 115-117) by R Nideffer, 1976, New York:  Crowell. Copyright 1976 by Robert Nideffer.  Reprinted by permission of Robert M. Nideffer, PhD. President, Enhanced Performance Associates, San Diego.CA. 

The higher your score on the BET subscale, the more able you are to deal with a large number of external cues effectively – your broad external focus is effective.

The higher your score on the OET subscale, the more difficulty you have narrowing your attention to the appropriate cues.  You appear to be overloaded by external cues.

A high score on the BIT subscale indicates an effective broad internal focus.

A high score on the OIT scale indicates an overload of internal cues inhibiting effective attending.

Additionally, a high score on the NAR subscale signals an ability to narrow attention effectively.

Whereas a high score in the RED subscale is symptomatic of perpetually narrowed attention.

Effective attenders (those who are able to give their attention – concentrate) score higher on the BET, BIT and NAR scales than on the OET, OIT, and RED scales.

Figures 9.1 and 9.2 illustrate effective and ineffective attention profiles, respectively.  Compare the profile you have constructed with these illustrations.

Plot your scores on this graph

90 7 8
80 8 6 8 7 7 8
70 6 5 6 6 6 76
60  5  4  5  5  5  5
50  4
40 3 3 4 4 4 4
30 2 2 3 3 3 3
20 1 1 2 2 2 21
10 1 1 1


90 7 8
80 8 6 8 7 7 8
70 6 5 6 6 6 76
60  5  4  5  5  5  5
50  4
40 3 3 4 4 4 4
30 2 2 3 3 3 3
20 1 1 2 2 2 21
10 1 1 1

Figure 9.1  Effective attention profile.  Note. From The Inner Athlete( p121) by R.M. Nideffer, 1976, New York:  Crowell. Copywright 1976 by Robert M. Nideffer.  Reprinted by permission of Robert M. Nideffer, PhD.  President, Enhanced Performance Associates, San Diego, CA.

Link the red numbers to obtain the profile.

90 7 8
80 8 6 8 7 7 8
70 6 5 6 6 6 76
60  5  4  5  5  5  5
50  4
40 3 3 4 4 4 4
30 2 2 3 3 3 3
20 1 1 2 2 2 21
10 1 1 1

Figure 9.2 Ineffective attention profile.  Note. From The Inner Athlete( p119) by R.M. Nideffer, 1976, New York:  Crowell. Copywright 1976 by Robert M. Nideffer.  Reprinted by permission of Robert M. Nideffer, PhD.  President, Enhanced Performance Associates, San Diego, CA.

Link the red numbers to obtain the profile.

Game Sense Explanation

By | September 18, 2017

For some time now I have been trying to develop activities that will develop game sense in players. In less developed unions this is a real problem however it is by no means confined to these unions.

What do I mean by game sense?
It is the ability of players to adjust their play to change.

If we take an episode in play from the restart to the whistle things seldom go as planned and it is the ability of the players to adjust to the situation. Too often players expect “the move” to go “as rote”, it seldom does.

The transition from the expected to the unexpected and especially from attack to defence and defence to attack can often be slow. The transition from attack to defence takes more time because of the “let down” when it occurs and the edge that the defence in transition to attack from a turnover, is what often determines points and, ultimately, the result.

But game sense is not just about this major shift following a turnover, it is also the adjustment that is made as team mates react to the behavior of the opposition whether they be in attack and defence and this adjustment is at the heart of rugby’s mode of play.

Just think about it, if a team plays to a pattern, no matter what, the opposition has something concrete they can react to. For this reason the successful move is quickly past its sell by date. But what the move does do is force a reaction by the opposition and this generates options and it is the counter reaction that creates opportunities to succeed.

But more importantly, in the less successful and less skillful levels of the game, the player’s inferior performance forces an adjustment by team mates.
All this involves game sense.

I have tried to use video clips of episodes of play.
What we do is pause the footage at the restart and have the groups of players and coaches explain:

  1. The likely play that will take place.
  2. The functional roles of individual players.
  3. The outcomes you want them to achieve and
  4. The key factors that need to be performed to achieve the outcomes.
  5. And finally the outcome that is most likely to be achieved at the end of the episode.

The episode is then played so the end result can be viewed.

This is followed by comparing the outcomes and, more importantly, the differences in play by the individual players.

It is here that there is the weaknesses because it is very difficult to get footage of all players throughout the episode so the analysis is inaccurate.

I will continue to try and solve this problem but in the mean time I have revised material I have previously produced on attention skills that others have used in a mental skills programme.

This will be spread throughout a number of my blogs. You may find them useful.

It is divided into an education phase, acquisition phase and a practical phase. They are of different lengths so the education phase will be over 2-3 months, the acquisition phase and the practical phase could well combined.



Developing attention skills will enable players and coaches to react to the play of opponents and that of their team-mates.

This has a direct effect on decision-making and game sense.

It gives the situation a context in which the relevant variables are identified and acted upon.

In so doing it can be used to isolate the critical incidents important for decision-making based on the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

The level at which this is done is dependent competency.

The degree to which a coaches and players are able to react depends on competency in a substantial menu of coaching and playing skills.

Teams with substantial skills will be able to react accurately while teams with limited skills are likely to make inferior choices that will be less effective. Their reaction is likely to be inconsistent also.

In this latter situation planning to play an inconsistent opponent is likely to be a waste of time because they will be erratic. Under these circumstances the team is best to play to their own patterns and impose them on their opponents.

In this module we will practice developing attention skills to improve game sense.

Part One – Education Phase
Exercise 1 – Screening Wisely

The purpose of this exercise is to encourage you to analyse what cues are important to attend to when playing and coaching.  In so doing game sense will improve as you will have a practical way of making a decision and acting on it. Over time the speed and accuracy with which you make decisions will increase.

See the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and the use of myelin as a vehicle for performing skills accurately

The first skill is to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant cues.

Initially write down any cues you think may be important. Then look at them closely and identify only those that will have an equitable impact on the immediate plays. An irrelevant cue will be anything else.

In this sense equitable means that an accurate choice performed successfully will result in a reward in the play that immediately follows while an inferior choice performed poorly will be unsuccessful and concede the advantage to the opponents.

Here is a sample response written by a tennis coach.

Situation:  The opponent is preparing to serve. I am waiting to receive the serve.

Cues given by the server
Outcome for the receiver – To return the ball as deep into the court as possible
Relevant Cues Irrelevant Cues / Distractions?
  1. Positioning of the server
  2. Gaze of the server
  3. Angle of the racquet at contact
  4. Point of contact.
  5. Ball Trajectory
  6. The context – first or second serve and the server’s most likely option.
  1. Crowd noise
  2. Movement in the stands
  3. Previous hits and miss hits in the game.
  4. The score

Can you think of any more?

Rugby Example
Playing Situation:  Defending from a 5metre scrum.

Outcome for the defensive team: To regaining possession of the ball.
An attempt has been made to put the cues in sequential order that is probably an order of priority.

Attacking Team’s Relevant Cues Irrelevant Cues
  1. Alignment of the attacking line.
  2. Positioning of the attacking line.
  3. Depth of the attacking line.
  4. Who wins the hit upon scrum engagement.
  5. Attempts at maintaining scrum pressure by moving forward advancing the side that will create an advantage.
  6. The lines of running of each attacker as play develops.
  7. Whether the attack gets over the gain line
  8. The ball carrier’s relative body position upon contact.
  9. The positioning of attacking support players during and after contact.
  10. 1-3 and 6-9 from phase play ball.
  1. The closeness of the score on the scoreboard.
  2. Crowd reaction.
  3. Time to halftime.
  4. The structure of the halftime break.
  5. Substitutions for the last quarter.
  6. The loss of the toss and playing into the wind this half.

Outcome for the attacking team: 
Regain possession of the ball.
Note: Continue to make the cues sequential and in order of priority.

Cues Given by the Defending Team
Relevant Cues Irrelevant Cues
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 9

Situation 2: The teams are participating in kicking duels between 22metre lines with each team maneuvering, looking for a counter attacking  option.

Outcome for attacking team (the team in possession): Achieve field position in the opposing team’s half and, hopefully, possession at the next stoppage of play.
Note: Sequential and prioritised.

Cues given by your team and the opposition
Your Attacking Team’s Relevant Cues The Opposing Defensive Team’s Relevant Cues Irrelevant Cues
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 9

Situation 3:  There is 10 minutes to go. You have just scored and the score is 10 – 14 to the opposition. They have kicked off deep inside your 22metre line.

Outcome for your team/ the receiving team: At the next stoppage achieve field position and possession close to the opposing team’s goal line.

Sequential and prioritised.

Cues given by the kicking/ attacking team
Relevant Cues Irrelevant Cues

Attention Analysis:

  1. The purpose of this exercise is to help in determining which tasks benefit from each attention style.
  2. Place each of the tasks in the table below in the appropriate quadrant of attention.
  3. Check your responses against those of others. If they differ, think through the task and the information necessary for successfully completing it.

For example:

  • Scrums and tackle/ post tackle requires a moderately narrow external attention.
  • Changing a game plan during a game falls between a fairly wide internal perspective and a minimally broad external perspective.
  • Winning set piece possession requires fairly narrow external vision and broad external vision.

Exercise 2 – Attention Analysis


Place each of the following tasks in the appropriate quadrant of the attention dimensions diagram below.

Player Skills Coach Skills
  1. Tackling
  2. Goal-kicking
  3. Psyching up for the game
  4. Using the overlap on the wing
  5. Listening to instructions
  6. Planning a pattern of play
  7. Executing a lineout take
  8. Maintaining the pace of the game
  9. Reacting to the opposition scoring in the following play.
A.    Using key factor analysis to correct individual skills.
B.    One-on-one interviews with players.
C.   Selecting a squad of 25.
D.   Modifying the patterns of play to produce a game plan for a specific opponent.
E.    Making a tactical substitution.
F.    Developing a code of conduct for the team.
G.   Observing opposing teams.
H.   Planning a practice session.
I.      Making best use of assistant coaches.
J.     Demonstrating a skill.


Broad / Peripheral Vision
Internal – inward on thoughts and feelings. External – outward on events happening in the environment.
 fill in here  fill in here 
 fill in here  fill in here 
Internal External
Narrow / Tunnel Vision

The purpose of this exercise is to allow you to assess the attention demands of playing and coaching in your current coaching/ playing environment.