he demand for concentration varies with the sport and is divided into three types:
- Sustained concentration – relevant to sports with an endurance element such as long distance running, cycling marathons or tennis matches
- Short burst concentration – evident in golf and cricket and short sprint field events
- Intense concentration – sprinting, bobsleigh, target archery, darts, skeet or clay shooting
Negative emotions such as anxiety, anger or depression can affect the ability to concentrate so is this not a chicken and egg scenario?
Learning techniques to concentrate intensely for short periods of time are fundamental to sporting success and can also have proven benefits for those who are struggling with mental health issues, ergo high concentration sports can be an excellent mechanism to help support mental health in a whole range of people. Whether it is supportive to existing conditions or to some degree preventative.
This is because the amount of focus required trains the brain to concentrate on the here and now, to ignore negative self-talk and doubt by utilizing positive self-talk. Employing strategies such as ‘parking’ techniques to temporarily remove unhelpful thoughts and emotions and put them to one side for a defined period of time.
Archery as a target sport requires high levels of concentration and offers to the individual perhaps not such an obvious benefit and that is one of self-discovery and self-truth, in fact a road to mindfulness and inner peace.
Mindfulness is a heightened state of self-awareness, a way of slowing down the moment and focusing only on that point in time, developing deep levels of consciousness, of how the body feels rather than by being solely driven by the constant jumble of thoughts and emotions in our heads. Becoming more aware of immediate physical sensations and our environment allows us to understand and process our mental traffic; it’s not about changing it but more the ability to disassociate ourselves from it and see it for what it is which is something that does not need to govern and define our lives.
The Japanese who have not picked up a bow in anger for centuries use archery, the ‘Way of the Bow’ or Kyudo as a mechanism to provide focus and self-discipline. Kyudo has strong links with the teachings of both Shinto and Zen, providing a whole body and holistic experience of focus and concentration – whole body control means that the mind is also completely focused; Kyudo is sometimes referred to as ‘standing Zen’ because of the total immersion that is required in the technique.