By: Sarah Grippi
When competing, there are multiple external (outer) and internal (inner) distractions that can cause the athlete to lose attention and concentration.
Some external distractions that could happen during competition: Noisy crowd, coach/parent leaving, camera clicking, movement in peripheral vision, and intimidating comments from opponent.
On the basketball court, all of these distractions can happen throughout the game making it very difficult to return focus and get back in the zone.
When an athlete is shooting a foul shot, the environment that the athlete wants is silence. The opposite team and their fans usually do not respect that by shouting while preceding to make obnoxious movements to distract the athlete along with the camera man taking action shots.
While this all is happening the athlete is thinking about what they have to do next if the foul shot is made or missed, an injury, or past mistakes.
With this all happening at once, it is very difficult to only focus on making the foul shot. When I played basketball, foul shots were the easiest point to obtain but also the most challenging because of all the external and internal distractions.
When playing, it is easy to let your body control because it is almost second nature now. A foul shot is less natural and there is usually a lot of pressure on the athlete to get the free point.
To avoid all these distractions, it is best to plan out what needs to happen at the present moment, have full concentration, ignore all distractions, and recognize where the opponent is to prepare for.
To have complete attention to the present action, focus must be narrowed down by ignoring the surroundings at that time and focus only on the foul shot.
To avoid distractions, there are concentration cues that will help stay focused. The three cues are verbal, visual, and physical.