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Savvy Supporters: Present Moment Focus

Parents, coaches, friends, and extended family can all help athletes develop a better present moment focus. Here are some ideas:

  • Help increase athletes' awareness about their focus by asking how often they are stuck in the past or worried about the future during practices and games. Discuss what triggers them to become focused on the future or past. Ask them to tell you about a time they were able to be more locked in to the task, and "just play".

  • Provide opportunities for moments of mindfulness before and after practice to increase development of present moment skills. Have athletes mindfully stretch (rather than talk with each other), focus on their breath, or do a check in with how they are feeling physically.

  • Encourage and incorporate the use of external and instructional cues to stay focused on the task after a mistake. For example, when an athlete makes a mistake in the field, have them refocus by clapping their glove, or smelling the leather. These are external cues that shift attention from thoughts about the past (dwelling on the mistake) and back to the task at hand. Or have athletes tell themselves "focus on ball" as an instructional cue to return the focus to present moment. Give athletes time in practice to determine what strategy works best for them.

  • Ask athletes about how they played, rather than just what happened in terms of outcome. Have athletes describe their technique or strategy that increased their success.

  • Model your own strategies for being in the moment or practicing mindfulness. This can be by demonstrating or talking about a formal practice, or by brief examples of a mindful approach. For example, describe what you notice as you are driving to practice. Model a quick focus on your breath when you find yourself distracted. Talk about what you experience through the day, and not just want you accomplish. Describe what helps you get immersed in an activity.

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