Coaching Tip #79

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79 - attention zero sum

Tagged – Coaching PracticePractice Management

The most important thing in sporting performance is attention. Attention must be optimal.  Sometimes a broad focus of attention is needed, sometimes it must be narrow.  Attention must be appropriately directed. Sometimes you have to look in one place, sometimes you have to look somewhere else.  Sometimes one skill has priority, sometimes it is another skill.

While attention moves around, the one constant is that it must be maximal.  Whatever the task at hand is, it can only be successfully completed with maximal attention.  This applies to both practice and competition.

The coach affects attention in many ways, including by focusing on specific themes in practice.  It turns out that attention is zero sum.  If the theme of a practice is on block, and the practice is well structured, block performance will improve in the short term.  But at the same time, performance in other areas will be reduced as attention is diverted.

The coach must be aware of this especially when reviewing practice.  If you want the practice to be about area A, you can’t expect areas B, C and D to be at the same high level.  That will come tomorrow.


A collection of 50 Coaching Tips can be found here.


For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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