Abstract and Keywords
Concentration is an attentional process that involves the ability to focus on the task at hand while ignoring distractions. Cognitive research shows that it is vital for success in any field of skilled performance. The chapter begins by identifying three different dimensions of attention—concentration (or effortful awareness), selective perception, and divided attention (or the ability to perform two or more concurrent skills equally well). In the next section, three influential metaphors of attention are reviewed—the filter approach, capacity (or resource) theory, and the spotlight metaphor. Next, the relationship between people's attentional focus (i.e., whether they “shine” their mental spotlight externally or internally) and skilled performance is investigated. Then, the issue of why skilled performers appear to “lose” their concentration so easily (because of external and internal distractions) is examined. The next section of the chapter explains five research-based building blocks of effective concentration. The sixth section explains five practical techniques that can help people to improve their concentration skills. The final section of the chapter outlines some potentially fruitful new directions for research on attentional processes in skilled performers.
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