As an athlete… there will always be distractions for you to deal with.
There are external distractions… sights and sounds are the most common.
There are internal distractions… thoughts and emotions are the most challenging.
How well you manage these distractions is critical to your ability to access peak performance.
Managing distractions effectively can only happen when you understand how to turn down the volume of distractions AND systematically train your Focus so you can control your dial on command.
Presence is the key.
When you are Present… you are fully Focused in the moment.
When you are Distracted… your Focus is pulled to another place or another time.
Learning to access Presence is your first step toward minimizing the effect of distractions on your performance. It is your first step to controlling the dial.
Breathing exercises, meditation, mindful movement exercises and tai chi are all great methods for improving your recognition of presence and strengthening your access to Presence.
One of the questions my athletes ask on a regular basis regarding distractions is… “Why are thoughts considered distractions? It makes sense that sights, sounds and emotions are distractions… but aren’t thoughts necessary for performance.”
Neuroscience research says no.
EEG studies show that when you are thinking… your brain waves are in the wrong frequency range for performing athletic skills effectively.
Thinking is the mid beta range. Performance is optimized when you are low alpha/high theta.
My athletic and meditative experience also says no.
Thinking directs your Focus to the future or the past.
When you are thinking… you are not paying attention to/monitoring what you are doing in the moment. You are Focusing on what you want to happen in the future or what already happened in the past.
If you want peak performance… use your senses to trigger and monitor your actions in the Present moment.
If you want to struggle with controlling your distraction dial… let thoughts and emotions pull you out of the Present moment and into poor performance.