One of the most important athletic transferable skills that can be gained from sports is being able to multi-task all the different requirements and responsibilities athletes commonly experience. Learning how to successfully juggle going to class, studying, practicing, and all the many other things athletes do in a typical day can be exhausting, validating the importance of multi-tasking. But what about “solo-tasking,” or the ability to block out distractions while giving full attention to the task at-hand?
The importance of focus
I regularly prompt my clients to Do the Next Thing Best, a suggestion that directs full focus to the targeted task, while simultaneously ignoring irrelevant distractions. For example, athletes must discipline themselves to do things like turn off their video game system while studying, refrain from daydreaming about their weekend plans while at practice, and ignore their smart phones while sitting in class.
When student athletes fail to hone all their attention toward a specific task, their focus becomes splintered and the cumulative results of their endeavors suffer as a result. Below are a few examples that illustrate the importance of being able to focus as it relates to performance:
- A student athlete playing video games while studying for a test will not retain as much of the material as if he were to turn off the game and direct his entire attention toward his notes.
- Student athletes who allow their minds to wander at practice not only run the risk of not learning team plans, but also put themselves at a greater risk for physical injury.
- In class, paying attention to text messages or surfing the web detracts from important class lecture notes and other important details about future tests and assignments.
So, how well can you solo-task? When it comes to turning off all other outside distractions and putting all your attention to the task at-hand, how well do you do?
Amazingly, so much of our human performance (both in class and athletics) has to do with paying attention to detail. When student athletes allow themselves to drift by not disciplining their minds to stay focused in the here-and-now, the quality of work suffers as a result.
Multi-task AND solo-task for optimal performance
There are certainly countless times in a day where student athletes are prompted to juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time, and multi-tasking is an invaluable athletic transferable skill to master. Similarly, being able to fully lock in to the task at-hand is just as important if the goal is to maximize productivity and reach your full potential. Fortunately, both multi- and solo-tasking are skills that every athlete can learn and master if they are determined to do so.