Keeping Your Focus in Sport

Today it is senior race day on the Isle of Man.  This is the last race of the TT (Tourist Trophy) 2009.  I find myself, as I do every year, marveling at the focus which these riders must have for a sustained period of time.  This course is just over 37 miles in length, and the competitors do up to six laps per race.  This course is known as the mountain course as it does pass over the mountain, but it also winds its way through villages and glens, and the average lap time is less than 20 minutes – on a bike, on the open road.

There is inevitably an unpredictability factor when you are racing on an open road; animals, both domestic and wild can, and do, suddenly appear upon the road.  The weather too is unpredictable as it always is in the North of the Irish Sea.  There is no margin for error at all and this race poses the greatest risk of all to the competitor.

The atmosphere here is always amazing, with bike enthusiasts convening here from all over the world.  There are motorbikes swarming along every road, and a kind of bonding and camaraderie between all of these people of different languages and cultures; their passion for biking, and for the sport of motor racing, forms a close bond which ties everyone together.

One of the biggest dangers for the rider is the potential to get a detached retina due to the constant vibration of riding the open road at such speeds.  The stress placed upon ones physical body is incredible, but the mental demands are far greater.  These riders choose to place themselves in a position of the greatest stress they can find, although they do not see it as stress or pressure; they see it as a challenge.  All great sports people love a challenge.  Challenges are what fire them up and keep them going.

To have a burning desire to achieve something is what keeps ones focus.  Your focus “in the now”, whilst racing, is driven by an overall NEED to succeed, a NEED to win.  This desire is what enables you to overcome obstacles and to keep going.  It has been known for a TT rider to have a detached retina repaired and then to race the following day. (Against medical advice, needless to say.)  The intensity of desire is what drives a similar intensity of focus.

Just think about the emotional energy these racers experience.  They create an enormous amount of emotional energy, or adrenalin.  This adrenalin could be experienced in a negative manner, as fear, but this is not the case with TT riders.  These competitors use their adrenalin to put them on a high, to place them “in the zone”; if this were not the case, in this sport…they would not survive.  Their burning desire creates energy which they direct into a state of heightened awareness which in fact is a state of hypnosis.  They race this course in a state of hypnotic focus; they really are in the zone.

What is amazing is that they are continually in this state for the entire race, which can be for an hour and a half.  This is an incredible accomplishment.  Compare this to golf, which takes four hours but you only actually have to be “in the zone” for a few minutes at a time, when you are executing each shot.  In the TT these riders are taking blind corners at 80-120mph, and racing down the straights at close to 200mph; that requires attention during each and every second.  You simply cannot afford a single fraction of a second of distraction.

A burning desire comes from within and also from the ability to see the end result which you want to achieve.  The TT race highlights the massive accomplishments the human mind can attain, so long as you have the correct focus.  The mental skills which are requisite in sport are the same skills which you need to be successful in everything in life; everything starts in your mind.  Without focus, you go around in circles.  Without passion you run on half steam.

Hypnosis is an incredibly empowering state as it is a state of relaxed focus. You are calm and yet have a heightened awareness.  You can learn sports hypnosis with the help of hypnosis mp3 downloads or hypnosis cds, and then you too can play your sport “in the zone”.