Teaching Focus to Track and Field Athletes

There are many skills that a Track and Field coach must teach.  Running mechanics, starts,  jumping technique, fundamentals of the throwing events and relay exchange are just a few of the skills that track athletes must be taught. As coaches it is our task to teach those skills to the athletes that will benefit the most. Throwers need not concern themselves with getting out of the starting blocks. Distance runners need not worry about how and when to drop the pole in the vault.  Sprinters do not need to learn the glide or rotational technique in the shot. Not every athlete can benefit from all of these skills.  There is, however, one skill that every track and field athlete can benefit from, yet very few coaches teach it. Great coaches understand that focus is a skill. In fact it is the single most important skill in sports and like all other skills it can be taught.

In the video clip below Rick McGuire, University of Missouri, 30 year NCAA Division 1 Track & Field Coach and nationally recognized leader in Applied Sport Psychology, discusses the five key skills that are components of focus.

If you are interested in learning more about Coach McGuire’s program, click on the link Teaching Track & Field Athletes the Skill of Focus and get more information  about purchasing DVD that this clip came from.

The YouTube video below has sound, so please make sure that your sound is turned on and that you have access to the site. Some schools block access to YouTube


Five Key Skills in Focus

1. Time orientation – athletes need to be in the present. They should be thinking about what is going on right now, right here

2. Positive self talk – The conversation they have with themselves must be positive with lots of affirmations.

3. Composure – Athletes need to know what is their optimal arousal level and how to maintain it during competition.

4. Concentration – Finding out what information is relevant to your competition and pay attention to only this information. There will be lots of other information that is not relevant and it must be ignored. Pay attention to only the things that are relevant.

5. Confidence – Athletes must believe they can be successful. They must also believe that confidence is a choice. They can chose to be confident in themselves. It is critical that they believe this.

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