What is concentration?
Concentration is the ability to devote your complete attention to a task while maintaining situation awareness. It is the action or power of focusing one’s attention or mental effort. When dealing with one particular thing above all others, this is concentration.
How concentration makes you the best at something
I once read about something interesting about the famous poker player, Gus Hansen. Gus’ concentration on the game of poker is so great that he does not notice when cocktail waitresses come to the table. One writer says that Gus Hansen’s concentration is so great that if you watch him on tape his eyes never leave the board.
Most guys look away and catch a glimpse of attractive women walking by, but not Gus. He is completely absorbed into the game. Gus is he, and he is poker.
He’s not focused only on the cards, the players or the odds. His concentration absorbs all parts of the game. You can only focus on one thing at a time, but switching between different parts of the same task happens so fast that it often creates the illusion of multitasking.
Gus’ focus rapidly switches between the tells his opponents are giving, calculating odds, potential bluffs and evaluating his own level of play. He is concentrating on poker, but switching his focus to different essentials of the game.
Concentration to become a better fighter
When I started fighting the only things I concentrated on were my opponent and what my corner told me. After a while, I was easily able to do that and hear what the opposing corner was telling the other fighter.
The more time you spend concentrating, the more quickly you grasp the ideas and less effort it takes to do so. I learned a lot from the first three chapters of the Bardon system, which I highly recommend. This frees up mental energy to rearrange your focus within the theme of what you’re concentrating on.
Duration is a factor. You are useless if you can only play 20 hands of poker before your concentration starts to slip. All your hard work will be for naught if you lose out on the 21st hand. If you have a ten round fight but can only concentrate for 4, misery awaits you.
In most cases your failure is not as painful as a left hook, but everyone can benefit from improving their concentration. There are some great supplements to improve concentration but instead I have pure action for you. Everyone can improve following these simple tips.
Deep Thinking Increases Concentration
Spend a set amount of time thinking about your skill with no distractions. Exist in deep thought, reflecting on the problems you face and possible solutions.
Deep thinking also gives you better insight into a problem. You get a feel for existing in the zone with nothing else competing for your attention.
Your mind abhors extended concentration on only one thing. When you first start this it will be a struggle for you, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and the longer you can concentrate.
Learning how to visualize improves concentration
Imagine performing your skill, rehearsing different scenarios in your mind. The more you do this, the better you will get at immersing yourself in the situation. Increase the amount of time you do this until you can sustain a full course of mental rehearsal without wavering.
Concentration requires a point of focus
In poker, it’s the cards on the table. In boxing, I like to use a man’s chest. In writing I use my theme. It’s the anchor I use to keep the ship of my mind in the harbor of productivity. There are many things to choose from regardless of your skill. How do you choose?
Focus on something that is unchanging about the skill. I once had a sports psychologist tell me to focus only on three things during a fight and the rest would fall into place. It didn’t matter what those three things were as long they pertained to my boxing performance. To put it another way, he was telling me to choose focus points.
Deep breathing improves concentration
No matter what the discipline, I have found that keeping your breath steady keeps your mind steady. Controlled breathing keeps you composed and relaxed. This is important because when you lose your composure or become flustered, you lose your concentration more easily. This will, in turn, increase the possibility of failure.
There is a great deal about specific breathing techniques but they all boil down to this: Put your mind on your breathing. Try to consciously breath more slowly with increasing depth and control. The relationship between your breathing, mind and mood has been well documented.
Do these things and you will increase your ability to concentrate.