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Concentration is in your eyes

By Dr. Jorge Valverde

Great champions develop the ability to stay focused for long periods of time regardless of the challenges they face. High levels of concentration take place only when athletes develop the habit of controlling their eye movement. Martial arts masters, yogis and the monks in Tibet are capable of achieving high levels of concentration by controlling their eye movement. Modern scientists have now discovered the reasons why eye movement is related to high levels of concentration. Research shows that when you focus your eyes on an object that is 12 to 18 inches away from you, your brain wave activity and your heart beat decreases. When your brain wave activity decreases, you achieve mental clarity and you reduce muscle tension. Both, mental clarity and optimal muscle tension are keys for peak performance.

Observe the eye movement of great tennis champions, from Billy Jean King to Pete Sampras, Andre Aggassi, Roger Federer, Stephi Graf, Martina Navratilova and many others like Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova when they are performing at their best. All these champions have developed the habit of controlling their eye movement.

When your eyes are focused, you achieve mental clarity and relaxed intensity. However, the opposite is true: when you look at those sitting in your box, when you argue with the umpire, when you become upset, when you dwell on your mistakes or when you lose hope, your eye movement increases and mental clarity and relaxed intensity are impossible to obtain. Without mental clarity and relaxed intensity, you cannot focus on your winning strategy. You cannot figure out the adjustments you need to make to overcome obstacles, your mind is full of noise, and contradictory thoughts run through your mind. Consequently, muscle tension increases and performance deteriorates. Without mental clarity and relaxed intensity, you are like a Ferrari running on a wrong kind of gasoline: you will not go as far as you want to go.

When the above concentration principles are applied in combinations with other mental tools, high levels of performance can be achieved with great levels of consistency between points, games and matches.