Centring & Mental Focus in Sports

Avoiding distractions is critical in order to stay focused during sports, and this technique is called “centring”. It allows you to stay in the moment and remove your thoughts from anything which might disrupt your present task. By focusing on your breathing and removing your focus away from any negative potentials you reduce stress and anxiety, which allows you to pay attention wholly and positively to the task at hand.

Centring Method

The first way to approach centring is to try to ‘listen’ to your body. Focus on the rate of your breathing and try to keep it at a slow and steadied pace. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, feeling the air filling emptying from your lungs each time. Try to concentrate on this movement to centre and relax yourself. Sometimes it can be useful to have a key word which you repeat over to yourself which can help you to refocus. This is known as a “mantra”, and can be a word, for example, like “relax” or “steady”. This supplements the concentration on the breathing and helps to fully focus you on what you want to do.

The key to any good centring technique is finding one that’s right for you and then making sure you practice it often. This way you will be able to recall the method automatically when you need to use it most. Sometimes the stress of training or competition can get in the way of you centring yourself, and regular practice of your technique is the best way to combat this. The process of centring is meant to be a way of countering performance anxiety and keeping your concentration in the present. Harnessing and developing this kind of relaxation response and being able to recall it automatically will change how you feel about what you are doing. The less stress you experience, the more fun you will have and so the more motivated you will be to persevere. Whenever there is a break in the action or a rest period you can use during exercise, use this time to get refocused and ‘centre’ yourself.