Sport Principle 29: The ‘F’ word

About the Sport Principle

This principle is all about the ‘f’ word: focus, of course. Sportspeople, like all of us, sometimes get their understanding of how we focus wrong, and it costs them dearly. They may talk about their momentary loss of focus costing them the game. For example: ‘I lost my focus for a split second and let the striker get past me to score the winning goal.’

We are so used to this way of thinking that it becomes hard to recognise what is wrong with it. But your focus is not something that can be lost. You cannot drop it, and find yourself in a situation where you need to search around for it under the table to pick it up again. We are always focused, it’s part of being human, just not necessarily on the right things, at the right time. Another part of being human is that we allow all kinds of other things to flood our minds and distract us from what we need to focus on.

Elite sports psychologists help their players by using a grid similar to the one below. You can see there are two intersecting axes: the ‘X’ axis is a spectrum of internal to external focus, and the ‘Y’ axis runs from ‘broad’ to ‘narrow’. Different sporting scenarios fit neatly into each of the four quadrants as you can see:

Application to life

It’s really easy for us to lose our focus too. Often, it’s not even bad things that distract us. In Luke 10, Martha was distracted by “all the preparations that had to be made.” Good things of themselves, (how many people on the planet, ever, in the history of the world, get the chance to host Jesus and his disciples?) But Martha lost her focus, and in that moment allowed her heart to become just like the thorny ground on which the seed fell in Jesus’ parable of the Sower. Here it is the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things that come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. None of these things are evil of themselves: worries, wealth, things, but how easily we allow these and similar things to set themselves up as competitors with God in our lives. By the grace of God, may we truly realise that we never lose our focus, we simply allow ourselves to focus on the wrong things. May we refocus our lives today and may we always keep the main thing the main thing: Jesus, and His will for our lives.

’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.’

Luke 10:41-42

Image credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash