"When pressure is at its peak, that's when your concentration level is at its highest.” – Tiger Woods. Concentration is the ability to direct your thoughts in a direction that you choose. It is a process of exclusive high involvement in a current task and being able to exclude all other distraction. Some people are able to completely concentrate and become fully engrossed, whether they are watching a movie, playing a game, or reading a book. But, others find their thoughts wandering away to settle on worries or any other issues with which they happen to be preoccupied. At a match venue, grapplers and combat athletes sometimes get distracted by spectator behavior or by the presence of family and friends. Concentration focuses your mind on the task at hand and helps you play your game with a single-minded approach, ignoring all distractions completely.
Concentration can help you in many ways during a bout. It provides you with

• improved recall of your game plan
• improved recall of your best moves and styles
• improved recall of the tactics you planned to use to get out of difficult holds
• more effective delivery of your moves
• more accurate use of techniques and styles based on a given situation

When you concentrate, you will be able to use your mind at optimal levels to call on all aspects of your preparation.

How do you concentrate?

Concentration begins with a process of sorting through your mind to quickly bring to the fore the relevant issues for your match. Match-relevant issues, such as your game plan, your best techniques, starting tactics, etc., have to be brought top-of-mind. In fact, you have to consciously begin the process of concentration the minute you enter the venue for the match, even before you enter the ring, so that thoughts pertaining to the match fill your mind.

Learning to concentrate requires practice and the best place to start is in your training sessions and also through visualization. In fact, the ability to visualize and a relaxed frame of mind are considered the two key factors in developing your concentration to peak levels. It is generally believed that it can take between four to six weeks to learn to apply concentration in your game.

Techniques to improve your ability to concentrate:

There are two of types of techniques to improve concentration:

1. Distraction breakers: Distraction breakers are methods that show you how to pull your mind away from distractions
2. Concentration builders: Concentration builders are methods that show you have to improve your involvement on the task on hand.

Distraction breakers:
• "Recapture" method of refocusing
• Nonreactive method
• Time-identifier method
• Mind-wandering exercise

Concentration builders:
• Meditation
• Reading assignment
• Adventure sports
• Recall method

Distraction breakers:

"Recapture" method of refocusing


This is a method where you recapture your thought processes from distractions and brings yourself back to the game whenever you become aware that your thoughts are elsewhere or when you are unable to think clearly. You can "prompt" yourself through self-talk by saying something like – “come back to the mat" or "I'm not going to listen to the crowd" and refocus your attention back on the game.
Ideally you should use your training sessions to practice this approach by simulating the distractions
in a real event. You should build in as many distractions as you can – sounds of live commentary, sounds of traffic on the street, people, etc.

This method also comes in useful when you are in a taught position. Refocus your thoughts on methods to get out of the situation, rather than give up hope and tap out.

Nonreactive method
You can start practicing this method just about anywhere in your day-to-day life. It takes willpower and determination on your part. You have to train your mind not to react or give in to any form of distraction.
• Don't look around when a door slams; continue with what you are doing
• Don't look around when you hear raised voices; continue with what you are doing
• Don't look up when a spectator yells during a practice session; continue with your game
• Don't look around when someone coughs; continue with what you are doing
This method is an attempt to discipline your mind and keep it focused.

Time-identifier method
It's not always external distractions, such as spectators or commentators that affect concentration. It could also be certain worries related to your personal life. Worries are usually based on problems to whom you seek solutions, but when you are unable to find the solution, these worrying thoughts keep returning to your mind at odd times when you cannot devote your attention to them. This type of distraction is most likely to happen when you are waiting for your turn in the match, at a time when you have to concentrate your thoughts on match-based issue strategies. The best way to deal with this type of distraction is to tell yourself that you will deal with the problem at a set time, for example, as soon as you get home or first thing in the morning.
This is a way of telling yourself that you have set the time and the place for it, and you are not just putting it off.
All you are saying is:
• right now your mind cannot deal with it
• the worrying thought has to stop interfering with your concentration
• you will come back to it later on
Whenever you find yourself sidetracked by a worrying thought, you have to remind yourself of the time identified for it. It is a process of temporarily switching off thoughts that are irrelevant at that moment and going back to them later on. It is in your best interest that you recall your worries at the identified time and deal with them accordingly. Research shows that the time-identifier method
significantly reduces distraction and improves concentration.

Mind-wandering exercise
If you find yourself completely lacking in concentration, then you should start with general and simple exercises before you attempt any of the other techniques. The mind-wandering exercise is an extremely simple method:
Step 1
• Take a newspaper
• Count the number of times that the word "and" appears on a page.
• Time yourself
• Every time your mind wanders, give yourself a point on a separate sheet of paper
• When you finish the page, count the number of points that you accumulated-this represents the number of times your mind wandered
Step 2
• Set a time limit that is shorter than the time you took in Step 1. If you took 10 minutes in Step 1 to scan the page, now give yourself eight minutes.
• Repeat the exercise using another page of the newspaper
• Every time your mind wanders give yourself a point and also visualize your opponent knocking you to the ground (this is something that is likely to happen if you don't concentrate during a game!)

Given the time limit and the visual imagery you create of the consequences of not concentrating, you will find that your mind wandered fewer times in Step 2.
Continue the exercise, reducing the time limit further in Step 3, Step 4, and so on, until the number of mind wanderings reduces to almost zero. Repeat this exercise over a few weeks or days depending on how quickly it has an impact on your concentration.

Concentration builders:
Meditation
Meditation is a powerful way to build concentration levels. This has been proven through several studies. Athletes and sports professional are employing this method all over the world, since it has a direct impact on performance.
Meditation is a deep thought process involving staying still and training your thinking onto one specific object or thought. This deep thought process does a whole lot of good for the mental state of a person in dealing with stress, pain management, insomnia, and so on, but concentration is one of the most important fall outs of meditation. Benefits of Meditation:
• gives you the ability to gain control over your thoughts
• you feel mentally stronger and develop a clarity in your thinking
• slows the pulse/heart rate
• lowers blood pressure
• can reduce headaches, muscle tension, or any discomfort caused by tension

Reading assignment
Give yourself a reading assignment. Rather than just reading through the material, break it up instead into manageable sections. Go section by section and test your involvement by verbalizing what you learned in each section in your own words, giving the gist of what you just read and then checking back with the material.

Adventure sports
Dabbling in adventure games, such as rock climbing or skydiving can help you build your concentration levels. The precision and timing involved in these games is entirely dependent on concentration. In fact, you need total concentration.

Recall Method
When someone is speaking to you, try to keep your attention on the voice and words, and later try to recall what you just heard, if possible verbatim-word for word. You can also listen to the TV news and then try to recall the information. When you fail to recall the information the first few times, you will find yourself trying harder to concentrate and eventually, through repeated practice, you will develop your concentration.
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