Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Stay Focused in Volleyball?

Participants in competitive sports typically spend hours preparing for competition and practicing their skills. A key aspect of athletic success is mental preparation, something less easy to learn or practice. In a close-quarters, fast-paced game such as volleyball, concentration is critical and can affect the outcome of a match.
According to Dr. Alan Goldberg, a noted sports psychology and training consultant, "playing to your potential is all about how well you can execute mentally." This is particularly critical in volleyball, which he describes as "too fast a game to play well unless your concentration is in the right place when it counts the most." During his training sessions with college volleyball and other athletic teams, he stresses that the mental game is what makes the difference between regular teams and champions.
When watching a volleyball game or other sporting event, you may notice certain times when a player is visibly concentrating on her actions. Serving is one of these times. A player focuses on the ball in her hand; she may perform various preparatory moves, such as bouncing the ball a specified number of times; and she follows the ball with her eyes as she raises it up and serves it over the net. Concentrating for these specific activities or time periods is readily understood as a requirement for performing them successfully. Maintaining that same level of concentration throughout the game is more difficult.
One concentration technique many volleyball players employ is visualizing each facet of the game, beyond the initial serve. The player will stare intently at the ball in her hand; she may perform a specific mannerism, such as bouncing the ball a fixed number of times; and she will follow the ball with her eyes as she lifts it up and serves it over the net. She maintains this concentration by remaining totally focused on the ball, its trajectory and speed, and the next likely moves in the game. She is acutely aware of where each player is positioned and what their likely responses will be to each play. This allows her to ensure she is correctly positioned and mentally focused for whatever situation arises.
Another key concentration technique is to focus exclusively on the game at hand, while deliberately excluding everything else -- the crowd, the noises, the lights -- from your consciousness. Successfully using this technique makes it possible for some players to be "in the moment" throughout the game, not just during key plays. This intense focus allows players to filter out all but the necessary elements of the game without being distracted by external stimuli.
Volleyball players can hone their concentration skills through drills, much as they practice setting or spiking skills. Certain fast-paced drills, such as pepper, require total focus on the ball and the activity at hand; doing them at an increasingly faster pace and for longer periods of time improves a player's ability to concentrate only on the game. Others will use a form of "time out" prior to a game. They will remove themselves mentally from their surroundings by techniques such as closing their eyes, isolating themselves from everyone else, or listening to personal music players, for example. By recreating these focused environments on the court, they can remain concentrated throughout the game.

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