Two weeks before he runs in the New York City Marathon, Apolo Ohno tweeted, “The MIND is the most undertrained asset of any athlete. It is the biggest difference between separating those who r GREAT or inconsistent.”
The concentration number grid featured in the iPhone App FocusUp was first used in the Soviet Union by Olympic coaches to evaluate and hone the concentration skills of their Olympic athletes before competition. Today top notch coaches such as Nick Bollettieri (coach of Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and others), Cy Young winner and major league pitcher Roy Halladay, and leading sports psychologists such as David Coppel employ the concentration number grid game to develop a “quiet eye” and a high level of sustained meditative focus. Exactly what you need to reach the peak performance zone.
On May 29, 2010, Roy Halladay pitched the 20th perfect game in MLB history, beating the Florida Marlins by a score of 1–0 as a Philidelphia Philly. In the following excerpt from Sports Illustrated in 2007, Michael Farber wrote about how Roy Halladay’s use of the number grid helped him achieve breakthrough performance in pitching.
Roy (Doc) Halladay was mowing them down in order last Saturday afternoon: 00, 01, 02, 03…. Routine. Twice on the day before starts and once more on game day, the Toronto Blue Jays righthander takes a laminated grid containing 100 randomly distributed numbers and locates each one in sequence: 37, 38, 39, 40…. Think of it as Sudoku for Cy Young winners. The purpose of the exercise is to narrow the focus of a lively mind to nothing but the next number, which helps Halladay sharpen his concentration on nothing but the next pitch when he reaches the mound. “I’m not one of those guys who’s worried about who’s on deck,” he says. When he began working the 10-square-by-10-square grid five years ago, he needed 17 to 20 minutes to finish. Now he has become so proficient that he sometimes amps up the distractions, turning on the TV or listening to songs with burrowed-in-the-brain lyrics: 89, 90, 91, 92…. He usually finishes in 3 1/2 minutes. This effort, he clocked in four minutes and 29 seconds.
Focus and Emotional Regulation
Performing in the clutch is all about tuning out the pressure, nerves, noise and distractions of the moment. But the ability to perform under pressure isn’t something an athlete is either born with or not. It’s a skill, one that can be learned.The purpose of the number grid in FocusUp is to narrow the focus of a lively mind to nothing but the next number, which helps you concentrate on nothing but the next shot or the next pitch or the next math problem at hand. With consistent practice, a high level of diligent focus can be achieved to the degree that roaring crowds, irate opponents, flashing cameras, or your inner critic, can’t take you out of your zone.
Achieving a state of relaxed concentration is your goal with FocusUp. , This state of mind can be seen with brain imaging techniques. Clutch free throw shooters and golfers have quiet brains; and this calm zen-like state of mind you can nurture and build with practice. Having a quiet brain allows highly trained skills to be executed automatically without thinking or conscious control getting in the way.
Give FocusUp a try. Let us know your experience with it. It’s a tool that is sure to raise your game. And for 99 cents it’s a bargain and keeps our engine going building more apps for you.