Time traveling: Great for rectifying past mistakes but deadly to the esports competitor.
Ever find yourself reminiscing on your past game, second-guessing yourself right before your next match, or remembering how great you used to be at your game of choice? Do you find yourself looking towards the future, or thinking about past performances? We call this time traveling and it occurs when your feet are in the present but your mind travels to somewhere else.
A recent Harvard University study found that people’s minds wander 46.9% of the time while they are awake. Esports demand being in the present while competing to yield optimum results.
Momentum shifts happen quickly in esports and if we let our minds wander away from the present moment you lose your ability to act and react to appropriate cues during matches. Though these lapses are extremely brief they can occur at crucial moments of a game. Even a brief lapse in focus can lead to detrimental consequences and you typically find yourself in the losers bracket once they do occur.
So how can you improve upon your mindfulness and attention control in esports? Well, there are three steps to help us “be where our feet are”. Good news is you’re already on the path towards the first one. Being aware of ‘time travel’ is the first step to improving your mental performance during competitions.
Second, bring yourself back into the present moment as soon as you recognize that your mind has begun to wander. The most realistic way of doing this during a high-stress, competitive match is by breathing. Yes, it’s that simple. Everything your physical body does occurs in the present moment. Pay attention to your breaths and you will snap back to the present.
Third, it’s all about 3-2-1. This technique can help you use external cues to bring you back to the present. As soon as your mind begins to take flight inbetween competitive games, SEE 3 things around you. It doesn’t matter what, just identify three objects in your immediate surroundings... It can be a chair, headphones, a monitor or whatever grounds you to the present. Once you’ve identified these three objects, announce them to yourself. Next, find 2 objects you can TOUCH. Again, it’s your choice, it could be your hair, a controller, the table, it doesn’t matter. Don’t just touch them but FEEL them. Lastly, HEAR 1 external sound. Maybe it’s the announcer, people laughing next to you, or the soundtrack of the game you’re playing.
Remember to not just notice the sight, touch and sound of what you have deliberately identified but to hone in on the details. Now that you know how to “be where your feet are” practice these moments of mindfulness in competition and success will be yours.
Justine Jones M.S.
Sport Psychology Consultant
Mental Performance Coach