3 Actionable Tips To Improve Your Focus in The Competition Arena Ep. 5
Focus is being able to keep your mind on the task at hand. It is very important when we work with horses and compete. When we are in the arena, focus involves not being distracted by outside things (like the announcer, someone yelling or losing a stirrup) or inner things that run through your mind (“why did you do that?” “Ugh… oh no!”). As competitors, we need to be able to bring our focus back to what’s important. We need to be able to focus and stay present.
I believe focus is like a muscle. We need to practice focusing.
In this episode, I have some tips for how to strengthen your ability to focus.
Being challenged when it comes to keeping focused is a legitimate problem. I read a scientific study that said the average human has an 8 second attention span — that’s less than a goldfish! And less than the time it’s going to take you to accomplish anything with your horse.
Your mind is a muscle that only has so much strength at any given time. If we don’t exercise this “muscle”, it’s not going to be strong. It is normal to struggle with focus. If you struggle with focus, there is not something wrong with you.
We have to be aware of our thoughts about our ability to focus. Be careful of what you think and what you tell yourself. Repeating “I’m such a scatterbrain” or “I just can’t focus” or “I’ve never been good at keeping my mind on one thing” is like making a declaration that you can’t. Instead, we could change those thoughts to “I'm working on being more focused” or “Focus is a strength I’m growing”. Remember you bring about what you believe and think about.
Just like a muscle, your focus can atrophy. Use it or lose it. You build muscles gradually and your focus muscle is no different. With intention and applied exercise over time, you will build your ability to focus.
So how do we build our ability to focus? Here are some tips for you!
1. Practice Mindfulness
Consciously slow down. Stay present. Become more aware. Use time while you are shaving, eating or walking as time to be present and be aware of your surroundings. Listen carefully, pay close attention to the sights, sounds or tastes as you do these things.
An easy way to get started with meditation is to focus on your breath. Take a big inhale, then exhale completely. Meditation is a practice of reining in your monkey mind. Meditation provides an opportunity to practice refocusing when you lose your focus. There are apps that offer guided meditations, which are another good way to get started.
3.Practise active listening
When you’re with your horse and there are no distractions, you can practise active listening. Tune in to your horse’s blinks, shifts of weight, footsteps, breathing. Try not to make a plan, but just be aware of what is going on each moment. Ride the stride and be present and aware. This will help you connect with your horse and also build your ability to focus. You can do this when you’re leading your horse, doing groundwork or riding.
Focus is a muscle, so work it often and work it with intention. Pick one way to practice and be really conscious about it. Being able to rein in your focus and redirect your attention will really help, not just in the competition arena, but also in your life. Strengthening your focus will help you bring your attention back to the positives in your life or the lesson you’re working on in your journey.
Mentioned in this Episode