Concentration to Confidence

 Concentration games such as Jenga can cuiltivate greater attention span and focus.  Keep games light and fun for maximal results.

Concentration games such as Jenga can cuiltivate greater attention span and focus.  Keep games light and fun for maximal results.

If there is one topic that gets lost in the shuffle of Sport Psychology curriculum, or even discussed at a team practice, it’s the topic of Concentration.  It’s easy to discuss goals, perform visualization, or even say to an athlete “Focus!”  But what does “focus” mean, and how do we get better at it? 

The importance of concentration is most valuable for runners when finding their perfect gate within peak performance.  The discipline it takes to sustain a fast, uncomfortable pace makes it easy to back-off, but what we really need to do is focus with greater intensity.  Here are a few fun exercises you could play at home, and others to encourage your children to perform on their own. 

  • Board games or concentration games such as Jenga, or even blindfolded Jenga.

  • Learning or playing a musical instrument.

  • Teaching children to cook.

  • Brief bouts (starting with once daily for even just a few minutes) of meditation.

  • Completing a Concentration Grid, Sudoku, or Crossword Puzzle (remember those?).

  • Reading (any form of literature, but it helps if they enjoy what they’re reading).

Less than playful ways of strengthening one’s ability to concentrate:

  • Cleaning their bedroom!

  • Cleaning any room for that matter! 

Things that take away from the ability to fully concentrate or concentrate for long periods of time:

  • Screen time, such as video games, television, iPads, iPhones, etc.

One of the beautiful benefits of keeping children engaged with healthy habits such as sports, recreations, or hobbies, is it takes away opportunities for lesser healthy habits to become part of their daily routine.  To draw your family closer, meanwhile strengthen a child’s ability to concentrate, is by setting a family goal of forbidding any screen time during the evening hours, particularly before bed.  Not only is this good for the brain (development), but it will help everyone sleep better, and whatever was performed the night before (reading, homework, fun games, etc.) will be retained into long-term memory storage.