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  • rebeccachidley

Where are you focusing your attention

A great way to think about this is to identify your ‘attentional spotlight’. This is the small area that is occupied by your focus of attention at any given moment. Whatever information falls within this spotlight is what we consciously process while the information outside of the spotlight is not.

Changing your attentional spotlight…

If you move your eyes around a scene that you are looking at then you will be shining your spotlight on any area that you want to gather information about. We can not truly process information about some text, an object or a location we are at without shining our attentional spotlight on it.

Voluntary and involuntary attention…

Our attention can vary between moments when we intentionally choose what to focus our spotlight of on and moments when it is not under our control. It is worth remembering that we also don’t treat everything in the environment equally. E.g. a bright flash of light or a sudden large movement in an unexpected area, automatically capture the focus of the spotlight, yanking attention to the location where they appear.

Having your attention immediately snatched from you might seem like an inconvenience, but this process happens for a very good reason. These involuntary attention shifts instantly alert us of something in the environment that may be crucial to ‘survival’. To pre-modern humans, an automatic attention shift could have signalled a meaty dinner running by, or if one was less lucky, a threat lurking in the periphery, like a predator or a dangerous enemy.

How does this apply to sport?

  • Where is your attentional spotlight focused during a sport event?

  • Is it voluntary or involuntary attention?

  • What distracts you or snatches your attentional spotlight?


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