Game Sense – V

By | January 10, 2018

Learning to sustain attention – to concentrate – is extremely important.  As mentioned previously, you may find that stilling the mind is helpful.  You can worry or think about other things later.  At this particular moment you must direct your attention to a specific task.  You can also repeat the number grid task described earlier as a concentration exercise.  Just start at a different number each time.  Finally, any imagery that you do will help improve your ability to concentrate.  Imagery is in fact, a form of concentration.

There are some additional ways you can improve your ability to concentrate.  Try the following activities to bolster your concentration skills:

  • Performing the stork stand
  • Taking a concentration ride.

Exercise 13 – Stork Stand

Directions

Find a spot away from chairs, tables, or anything else that could be hazardous if you were to fail.  In addition, remove jewellery or glasses that might be damaged.

Begin by standing and putting all of your weight on one leg.  Place your arms out to the sides at shoulder level, and gradually raise your free leg.  Keep that leg close to the ground so that you can use it to regain your balance should you start to fall.  When you are comfortable, close your eyes and try to maintain your balance.  The trial is over when you either open your eyes or touch your free foot to the ground.  Time each  trial and record how long you are able to maintain your balance for each of three trials.

Trial 1_____________________________________________________

Trial 2_____________________________________________________

Trial 3_____________________________________________________

Your initial trials will probably be fairly short.  Try the exercise again.  This time, before you close your eyes, notice the physical or kinaesthetic cues you can use to maintain your balance.  Concentrate on those cues as you close your eyes and repeat the experience.  Record your balancing success for an additional three trials.

Trial1______________________________________________________

Trial 2______________________________________________________

Trial 3______________________________________________________

Did the cueing help your concentration?

Comments

As you become more able to sustain the stork stand, start adding some challenges to your concentration.  Turn on a radio, stereo or television to provide distraction, or have someone talk to you as you try to balance.  Work to maintain your concentration on the cues you need.

Alertness and Concentration

Of course part of being able to concentrate is being able to concentrate for the entire duration of your event.  That is relatively easier if you are involved in a sprint event, but extremely difficult if you are running in a marathon.  In lengthy events or those with breaks in the action, you also need to learn to concentrate, then relax, then make yourself concentrate again.  You must mentally pace yourself.  You must be alert, yet conserve psychic energy.

Regardless of the length of your event, you can enhance your ability to concentrate appropriately by planning and learning how long you will have to maintain you concentration.  Tom Kubistant (1986) suggests training concentration by involving yourself in a different activity for a length of time that matches the length of time you will need to concentrate.  The idea behind this practice is that you will gradually increase the length of time you are able to concentrate on any particular activity. Kubistant suggests taking long bike rides in the country for the length of time of your event.  If you aren’t a cyclist, try a drive in the country.  But do not allow yourself the luxury of turning on a radio.  Just try to concentrate on the activity.  Try out a concentration ride!

Exercise 14 – Concentration Ride

The purpose of this exercise is to accustom yourself to conserving psychic energy and concentrating for the duration of an event.

Directions

Select an alternative activity to take the place of rugby refereeing.  Generally a ride or a walk will be best.  Besides, it’s good exercise!  No radio or friendly chatter is allowed.  Just concentrate on the activity.  Perform your alternative activity for the length of time your sport normally takes.  If you have a halftime break, stop your alternative activity for that 10 minutes and then resume.  We want your concentration practice to simulate the real competitive situation.  When you have completed the exercise, answer the following questions.

Did your alternative event simulate the time involved in your sport effectively?
If not, what were the differences?

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Do you feel that you conserved your psychic energy yet concentrated on the activity?

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Describe your experience…

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Comment

An additional strategy, of course, is to have a trial competition in which you reproduce the conditions of competition and try to sustain your concentration throughout.  While this strategy might be the most fruitful, it is sometimes not possible. Can you imagine practicing refereeing a complete football or basketball game once each week?  The time taken away from developing other important concepts may be prohibitive.  However, you can analyse rugby for its logical breaks in action and the accompanying breaks in concentration that are necessary.  You can set aside time at each practice to work on concentration by not interrupting play for those lengths of time.  Think about how you could use this strategy in refereeing your sport.

Pre-event Routines

Routines can be extremely helpful in encouraging concentration.  Many players and referees use the pre-event routine to create a mind set for themselves.  The routine signals a focus of attention required for their sport.






Part Three – Practice Phase

This phase of developing your attentional skills is quite similar to the process required to practice other psychological skills.  You will need to perform the exercises described in the acquisition phase systematically to ensure progress. Further, it will be most beneficial to incorporate your attentional skill practice into the practice sessions for your sport.  Modify any of the exercises to make them more specific.  In addition, you should design your own exercises based on your understanding of rugby coaching.  But most importantly, use them systematically.

Again, you will need to devise a way to record progress and practice.  The records you keep can be informative and will serve as a motivator when you notice that you are indeed making progress.

Exercise 15 – Recoding Your Progress

Activities:  Selective attention, shifting attention, concentration
Sample logbook page for recording attentional skill.

Directions

Review the logbook page set out below.  In the space provided below, note how you would modify the page to fit the needs of your sport.

Date Length of Practice Attentional Skill Practiced Activity Comments


Exercise 16 – Your Attentional Programme

Directions

Complete the following worksheet to outline how you will incorporate attentional training into your practice sessions.

List two exercises you will use to practice selective attention.

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How will you fit these exercises into your practice sessions?

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List two exercises you will use to practice shifting attentional focus.

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Developing your own attentional Training Programme 

The time has now come for you to put together the education, acquisition, and practice phases for yourself. Review the material that has been covered so far and consider the concepts presented here.  Then, complete the following exercise and design your own programme.

Exercise 17 – Your Attentional Training Programme

How will you fit these exercises into your practice sessions?

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List two exercises you will use to practice concentration.

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How will you fit these exercises into your practice session

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List any additional means of incorporating attentional skills training into your practices below.

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