Hi Zen, thanks for your great questions earlier on the webchat. And for this one – which is really interesting as its one of the key problems athletes can face during a competition, especially team sports including cricket and football.
The main thing I do when I work with ahletes who want to improve their focus and concentration is to help them realise that there are things they CAN’T control and things they CAN control – and then we work on the things that they can control.
What you can’t control is the weather, the crowd, the umpire or referee’s decisions, the opposition, your coach or your teammates. But luckily, you can control how you react to them. We have choices – we can get angry or we can stay calm.
If the opposition is trying to distract you there are several things you can do:
1. Be happy: they are doing this to put you off, this means that they see you as a serious contender and they are worried that you are so good you might beat them. If they didnt think you were any good, they wouldnt need to bother putting you off. This is a technique called “reframing” where we change the way we see something.
2. Practice a way of focusing quickly when you need to. Find a spot thats easy to look at (maybe on your hand/glove or even draw one on, like this golfer uses http://www.mentalgolfblog.com/mental-golf/louis-oosthuizen-and-the-red-dot). When you look at that spot focus on it so much that you don’t notice anything else around you and say to yourself at the same time “focus” or “keep cool” or “you can do it”. The more you do this the easier it will be and you can focus in just a few seconds Do this even when you are training so that you get used to it for important matches. Of course, sometimes in cricket you need to be more aware of what’s going on around you too, but for batting you need much more concentration on the bowler and ball.
Hope this helps – let me know if you have any other questions.