The Power of Distraction

Volleyball Fans Two - Belmont University
Image by Paul Chenoweth via Flickr

It is the first set and match point for your team in your opponents gym.

The group of guys as been yelling/jeering you and your team all night. They count as you bounce the ball. And as you toss the volleyball to serve, they shout just before you hit the ball.

They found your Facebook page and know that the name of your cat is Maurice and that you like the both Beatles and Beyonce’. They see that you have marked your relationship as single and scream either, “I am available,” or “I know why you are still single!”

They are trying to distract you, to make you focus on them, not on the game. What are you to do?

Power of Distraction to the Power of Focus

Here is a volleyball tip to help turn their power of distraction into your power of focus. The goal of distraction is to make you concentrate elsewhere when you hear or see something and not to concentrate on what you are doing. The trick is to do the opposite.

Here is an example that I shared with my daughter when she was just starting high school volleyball and watching the varsity players being yelled at in an opposing gym. I grabbed her finger and said, “Now count slowly to ten.” I then started to squeeze her finger harder and harder, and at “three” she pulled away, not surprisingly. She asked me what I was doing and why I did that to her.

I then asked her to give me the same finger on the other hand and told her that I was going to squeeze again, and instead of tensing up and pulling way, that when she felt the pressure to just the opposite, to relax and count slowly. I then slowly began to squeeze and I could see her body go a bit limp. She made it to six, so I quit after getting the lesson across to her.

“So?” She asked.  “This is how you fight hecklers,” I responded. They want to squeeze you so hard, that all you can do is focus on getting away. But, if you reframe their shouting into focus instead of listening to them, you will become a better player.

Turning Shouting Into Power

This is what you do… If you start to hear the crowd yelling, instead of letting your attention wander to the noise, you instantly train your body and mind to focus on one single, small spot on the volleyball, say the label, whenever you start to hear jeering. Instead of the inbound noise causing your attention to become a broad disarray of thought, you use the crowed to take all your concentration and laser-like focus on that one spot on the ball. You concentrate exactly at the place on the ball where you have to hit the ball to make your best serve.

And, after you do so, you can thank the crowd for their assistance.