In sports, concentration is the ability to completely focus during an athletic task or activity. By concentrating well, an athlete takes in the information necessary to make good decisions, such as responding to an opponent or adapting to the environment.
The demand for concentration varies depending on the sport. Sustained concentration is necessary during sporting activities, such as cycling, distance running, squash and tennis. Short bursts of concentration are necessary during athletic field events, cricket, golf and shooting. Intense concentration is necessary during bobsleigh, skiing and sprinting.
Distractions cause athletes to lose concentration, which prevents proper execution during sporting events. Common distractions include anxiety, fatigue, mistakes, negative thinking, noise and weather.
Strategies to improve concentration depend on the individual. One method of maintaining concentration is to minimize personal distractions before sporting events so that the mind can more easily focus. Some athletes improve concentration by creating a physical routine, such as the rituals performed by basketball players before attempting a free throw. Athletes utilize physical routines for the specific purpose of narrowing focus, concentrating and preparing the body to perform optimally. Lack of sleep and poor eating habits also negatively affect concentration and focus. To prevent this, athletes should consistently get at least eight hours of sleep per night and eat a balanced diet high in iron, zinc and magnesium.