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Honing In Attentional Focus in Sport and Soccer

Honing In Attentional Focus in Sport and Soccer

Pay attention! Get your head in the game! Lock it in! Get in the zone!

It’s advice we’ve all heard before. The idea that if you can just manage to not lose your focus, not even for a second, that you will be unstoppable. And it’s easy to envision too, to see yourself as a force of nature dominating the ball and leading your team to decisive victory.

Of course, then the game actually starts, and the story is different. Attentional focus in any sport, and especially in soccer, is constantly challenged by a chaotic arena and a small army of determined players all aimed at the same small ball. It’s a constant battle of strategic defensive positioning and striking when a chance finally presents itself. Needless to say, attentional focus in sport and soccer is much easier said than done.

Still, there’s no question that it helps. Improving your focus makes it easier to play, to improve, and to learn from your mistakes. That’s why eSmartr and Umbro partnered together last year — to help bring improved focus and mental wellness to the world of soccer. There is a lot to demand your attention in the world of soccer, whether you’re on offence or defence; you constantly need to be aware of where your opponents are positioned, where your teammates are, when to strike, when to defend, when to strike and push for a play, or when to take your losses and reset so you can try it all again.

A soccer player practices his control of the ball on the field.

But attentional focus in sports can only be split so many ways before you begin to lose track of everything. Once you lose that focus you begin making poor decisions with the ball, missing your defensive assignments, risk getting carded, and ultimately becoming overwhelmed and tilted. 

So what can you do?

Finding your Focus and Keeping Calm

  1. Don’t let the other team inside your head. Focus on your play, your decisions, and what your team is doing. Obviously, you don’t want to ignore the other team completely, but the attention you give them should start and end with what you can do to counter their gameplan.
  2. Create tangible goals to focus on. Your attentional focus, in sport, in academia, in everything, thrives when it has something tangible to work towards. “Winning today’s game” is not a tangible goal, and is not completely in your control anyway. Try breaking each possession, whether offensively or defensively, into a singular goal that you can work towards.
  3. Distinguish between what you can and cannot control. Focusing on things beyond your control does you no favours. Trust that your teammates will do their jobs and focus on your own actions. Recognize your mistakes and learn from them — don’t dwell on the past when there’s more game to play! The ability to mentally hit the reset button will help you recapture your focus more quickly.


A woman pauses to catch her breath on the soccer field, with an Umbro sleeve on her arm.

Knowing how to focus is one thing, but knowing what to focus on is just as important. eSmartr can benefit your attention and concentration, through smart compression that helps you to improve yourself so you can improve your game. The power rests in your mind — it’s up to you to tap into it in ways that will bring your performance to the best it can possibly be.

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