Sports Psychology Tips: How to Deal with Distractions on the Netball Court
Are you guilty of losing focus?
When playing netball, there are many potential distractions to contend with. For example, the crowd can be loud, people can move in your line of sight, there can be loud music playing or you can even have a loose shoelace. These are all external distractions that can take you out of focus and cause you to lose your competition mindset. However, there are several internal distractions you may be struggling with such as, negative thinking, doubt, or worrying about the outcome of a game (to name but a few). Arguably, it is these internal distractions are more harmful to you and your performance as they are created, often unknowingly, within yourself. This can be harder to control and will ultimately impact your concentration the most.
Why this is a problem?
As an athlete, experiencing internal or external distractions while playing can massively affect your focus and concentration during the game. In turn, your athletic abilities may not be effectively and efficiently applied to any immediate and future tasks. This can be particularly noticeable in netball where your sustained concentration is needed for the whole game (particularly during a tough match!). Thus, if you are struggling to maintain your normal level of performance due to these issues you may find yourself:
- Fumbling with a catch
- Missing the net
- Struggling to keep up with the flow of the game
- Misinterpreting gameplay
Consequently, your performance level may drop and as a result, your self-confidence or belief in yourself can decrease dramatically. However, do not worry! You can implement some simple changes to your normal routine and performance mindset to help you both prevent and cope with distractions should they arise.
What can I do to prevent this?
These next four tips can be used to combat both internal and/or external distractions you may face on the netball court.
Developing a routine for before a match or practice can help focus your attention on the process of the upcoming game and help highlight what is relevant to you playing netball, rather than allowing any distracting thoughts to creep in. This routine can start the day before a game such as, looking at what you eat and how many hours of sleep you get. However, it can also be as straightforward as including a 10-minute stretching session before every game to focus your attention and prepare your body physically.
- Trigger phrases or words
Phrases like ‘be in the moment’ and ‘focus on the now’ or simple words like ‘focus’ and ‘alert’ can be used to help focus you on the task at hand. If you feel yourself shifting out of focus or going into a game where you know there will be a lot of distractions (e.g. a big game with a loud crowd), saying these things to yourself can massively improve focus. Make sure you create a word or phrase that is personal and has meaning to you or something you are working on in practice. Creating this can be used as a trigger for you to mentally strengthen yourself against distractions and focus your attention.
- Be Alert
It may sound super simple, but that’s because it is. You want to be able to notice when you are shifting out of focus in a game or straying from your prematch routine. Then, you can catch yourself beforehand and do something about it (for example, repeating your trigger word to yourself). Being aware you are losing focus is an important step for helping you regain your attention.
Often, athletes that feel themselves ‘wandering’ during a game and find themselves lost in the distractions can utilise this technique to refocus themselves into the game. Grounding is very simple and works to bring your thoughts and attention to the current moment and help athletes focus on the ‘here and now’ of a game. To do this, you need to become aware of the different feelings and sensations you have playing netball and use them to ground yourself back to the present. For example, you can:
– Focus on the feel of your feet pushing on the ground
– Hear the noise of teammates shouting for a pass
– Feel the texture of the netball between your hands
Any physical feeling or sensation that is present during a game can be used to help focus your attention on the task at hand. This can be used just before the game, as you are waiting to start, before you take a shot, while you are waiting to go on at half time or when there is a break in play during the game. With this, practice is key. So I encourage you to try this in your next few practice sessions and see if it helps!
Utilising any or all of these four tips can help you focus and prevent you from getting lost in the distractions of netball. Give them a go and see which ones work for you!
Feel free to sign up to the “The Mental Edge” if you’d like to improve your netball performance by developing your focus and concentration.
To get in touch for one 2 one Sports Psychology Coaching with a Olivia Scott, Mental Skills Performance Coach and Sports Counsellor , based in North Tyneside, near Newcastle upon Tyne – Telephone, SKYPE or online calls are available.
Mental Skills Performance Coach and Sports Counsellor located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. With a passion for helping hockey players and other athletes achieve their ambitions.