Should I Focus?
Sometimes we hear it. Sometimes we say it. Sometimes it is said to us. Inevitably the idea of “focusing on the task at hand” will come up in life. Generally it is when we are learning something new or trying diligently to perfect something.
Much of this conjures up more and more study on the Pre Frontal Cortex which is like the command center of our brains. This is where insight and judgement come from. The brain, maturing from back to front, will wire up this system and stabilize it much later than other parts of our brains. Research actually points to being 23 to 25 before the PFC is fully matured. This means that focus on pictures, images, and movement are more readily applicable and easier for us to use at certain times of our life. This also may mean that after we see the benefits of using the Pre Frontal Cortex for nearly everything in life (such as learning information that gets us a great job) we may have a tendency to use it way too much!
Athletic function, at its highest level is not being controlled by the PFC. The PFC needs a job, and generally that job would be better suited for a “routine” or “strategy” than how to swing the club. Obviously this is not a blanket answer to everyone, as different levels of skill will need more or less “technique” instruction. There is more and more data proving that shifting the focus to externals (as a former blog discussed) changes the “focus” of the brain. This is done with visual cues, tactile cues, and when done properly allows an athlete to use variance in motion as a great tool for performance.
A new and affordable piece of technology, The Focus Band, can give real time feedback on if a player is using the brain primarily for concentration on images, pictures, and all that follows the idea of trying to hit a better shot rather than making a good golf swing. The Focus Band will also give real time feedback on if a player is using the brain primarily for concentration on perfecting movements, judging positions, and all that follows the idea of trying to make a better motion rather than hitting a better shot.
This brings to mine a case study you may want to remember. Let me set it up for you: High School Player, Great Swing, Club head Speed of 110, Functional Body. He has all the tools but is yet to break par in a golf tournament. His performances are very steady but if there is a surprise it is a very high scoring round; never a low round. When I asked him to perform skill builds away from the ball The Focus Band feedback proved he was focusing more on images, pictures, etc…..When I asked him to hit a shot The Focus Band feedback proved he was focusing more on execution of movements. That is opposite.
Using this feedback tool I have noticed a trend. When someone is really, really trying to learn their focus is much different than when a player is trying to get the ball from point A to point B. Getting these two mixed up can cause some issues in the way of just “going through the motions of practice” and then “trying too hard during the game.”
Most of this really goes back to doing the very best we can at everything we do. When it is time to learn, focus on learning. When it is time hit the shot, hit the shot. Focus, that God given ability, is a very important skill that we all need to build. So should you Focus? I would suggest that you do, but not on the same things. Learn to move your focus around. Learn to shift it. Learn to “BE THE BALL” and learn to grind out those alignments in front of a mirror. Learn to shift your focus from hitting the ball out of the center of the face to drawing it into the target.