On Countdown to UFC 104, Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida said that in his fight against Rashad Evans when he won the UFC Championship, his concentration was so great that every small mistake that Evans made looked big to him.
When people talk about the “game slowing down,” this is what they mean. The athlete concentrates so intensely that he ignores the unimportant details and sees more clearly the important cues. By seeing these cues more clearly, he can act more precisely and more quickly, which ultimately leads to better decisions and more success.
Players need to practice attaining this level of concentration, as many times, this separates the more successful players. At practice, lesser players are easily distracted – I see players who look around as soon as someone walks in the gym or their eyes are darting all over the place when they shoot free throws.
While everyone needs skill development, these players need to spend time training their concentration skills too. At the free throw line, great free throw shooters are focused so intently on the target that they did not see or hear the crowd trying to distract them.
This is a mental skill that enhances the peformance of the physical skill and requires the same type of practice.