Focus, Triggers and Sports Psychology
Sports psychologist will tell you that an important aspect of any game is the ability of the athlete to focus. Keeping one’s mind concentrated on the task at hand is key to performing anything at a high level.
The 2010 British Open winner, Louis Oosthuizen, employed a trigger technique to do just that. In the past, Oosthuizen would become very temperamental on the course and regularly lose his focus. His mind would get off track and his swing would be affected. Consequently, his scores did not put him at the top of the leader boards. In fact, in two previous PGA tour events, he did not do well enough to make the cut and play over the weekend.
Oosthuizen and his Mind Coach came up with a solution to his focus problem. He put a large red dot in a very visible spot on his golf glove. Each time he gripped his club, he’d see the red dot as a trigger and to remember to focus… to clear his mind of any distraction so that his mind was completely in the game. He believes it made a difference in how he performed during the British Open. I imagine he will continue to use this technique as a visual reminder, or trigger, to help him focus for the foreseeable future. Serious golfers and sports-minded people may enjoy reading more about Oosthuizen’s Mind Coach, Karl Morris, and this trigger technique.
Focus and The Christian Faith
I spent some time the last 24 hours reflecting on how this focus issue might be addressed for those who are trying to live out the principles of the Christian faith and might be stumbling, especially in their thinking patterns. My mind kept going to two scriptures.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.“ Philippians 4:8
To understand what God wants us to be doing, we have to have a mindset based on his guiding principles. Paul tells us in Romans that it’s necessary to renew our minds by knowing what God’s truths are and we do that by reading the Bible. We must replace what society, or the world, tells us with the principles of God. He inspired the authors of the Bible to share his truths with us by the written Word. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Then in Philippians, Paul instructs us what to think on specifically… the kind of thoughts that should be in our minds. The more our thoughts are of those that Paul suggests, the more likely we will have peace and live a victorious life.
Focus and Your Red Dot
So what behaviors or “triggers” can we employ on a daily basis to remind us to practice these principles? I’ll share a few of the things I do that help me. I generally listen to Christian music instead of secular music. Most every morning I start my day with a devotional and read some of the Bible. I pray asking God to help me think about things that will please him and that are praiseworthy. I read books about the application of the Christian faith. Most days of the week I seek out scriptures that are conducive to personalizing in the form of daily positive affirmations. (Read a blog post about the value of speaking affirmations using scripture.)
It’s been my experience that the more I am intentional about monitoring my thinking patterns, and therefore think as Paul recommended to the Philippians, I’m better able to be the kind of man God desires me to be. The fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – are more apparent in my life.
So, I don’t use a visual type of red dot to help me focus on my walk with God. My main technique is monitoring my thinking pattern and by daily doing things that help me be reminded of the key principles of the Christian faith.
What’s your equivalent of Oosthuizen’s red dot that helps you stay focused on your walk with God?