Focus on Focus: Part 1 - Associative and Dissociative Focus

Most athletes focus on anything but the pain; Champions focus on nothing but the pain.

That idea may seem counterintuitive,, overly simplified, or hokey, but one of the biggest thing that separates average athletes from exceptional or champion athletes is their ability to focus and what they choose to focus on.

Exceptional athletes are exceptional for a host of reasons (they train hard, they are sometimes genetically gifted, they recover well etcetera, etcetera), including an exceptional ability to focus and to shift that focus when necessary.

So in my next few blog posts, I will focus on focus. In my last post "Mind Control for Athletes" we took a look at the tools and tactics to help improve our mental skills and train our brains to improve our performance. Now, in the "Focus on Focus" series we dive into how we can use our attention to excel in endurance sports. Specifically we will look at what kind of attention it takes to excel in endurance sports, the different classifications of focus, and see how where our focus goes can have a beneficial impact on our performance.

First up, I am talking here about attentional focus.

Here’s what attentional focus isn’t: it’s not those moments where you are staring off into space or at a blankly into space and someone says “whatcha thinking about” and you honestly can’t tell them… that is NOT attentional focus.

Attentional focus, though it seems obvious, is when you are actively or intentionally directing your attention in a specific way or on something specific. For our purposes, we are talking about attentional focus as a tool to enhance performance during our training and racing efforts.

SO, under the umbrella of attentional focus, we have several different categories that we will think about as layers. Each layer adds a level of detail and clarity.