Before the University of Alabama faced Florida State University in the first week of the College Football season, Coach Nick Saban was asked what he would like to see from his team in the upcoming game. His goal was simple:
The question then becomes, what can you do, as an athlete or a coach, to get you or your team to stay in the present moment? How, no matter what the internal or external distraction is, can you focus on the task at hand and do what you need to do in order to get your assignment done?
Here are three simple was to help keep you present when stress, pressure, or distractions keep you from achieving you goals.
First, become aware of your signals. When we get into stressful situations, we tend to have very unique signals that go off when we are not in the moment. It could be negative self talk or tension in specific areas of the body. Whatever the signal is, being aware (which we will talk about more later) is key to staying focused in the moment and controlling the things that you can control.
Second, be patient. If you are constantly in a rush, that means more than likely you are thinking about something in the future. In order to achieve the task that is right in front of you, right that second, what is going to happen five minuets or even two minuets down the road doesn't matter. What does matter is your ability to stay calm, not rush from one moment to the next, and stay right where you are until the moment is over. As we talked about a few months ago, the only thing that you have is right now - and rushing to get it to be done with will doesn't help.
Lastly, make being aware a priority. If awareness is the third or fourth most important priority in your list of trying to improve yourself as an athlete, you're more than likely in a bit of trouble already. Success is centered around your ability to be aware of the situation that you are in, accurately assess your emotions, correct your mechanical issues if necessary, and focus back on the task at hand. And no matter what you do, from breathing properly (which we discussed on how to do in a previous post) to staying calm in challenging situations, your ability and commitment to being aware is the vessel you need to get you where you want to go.
Staying in the moment is really hard to do. In the case of the Alabama Football Team, when you are expected to win the National Championship each year, just focusing on your job can be challenging. But each year, for nearly a decade, they have been in the last game of the year - because they play one play at a time and stay in the moment.
So don't just watch them do it. Go try it and see its benefits for yourself.