Focus exercise for the boys before tonight's tilt

Hey all!  As I've mentioned in some comments along the board, I feel that our basketball team's woes boils down to concentration issues as opposed to physical issues (except for maybe Fab Melo).  Whether it's Scoop not backpedaling on D or getting the ball stripped from his backside, K-Jo taking three Charging fouls, or RJ tightening up when double-teamed, many of our costly mistakes are small focus issues that cause hesitation thus failure.

As a hockey goalie, I learned that it is equally as important to warm up and stretch your hamstrings as it is to warm up and stretch your eyeballs and recognition skills.  There are a variety of factors to consider as a hockey goalie:  the speed and number of opponents and teammates coming at you or away from you, the handedness of their sticks, the angle of the puck to the net, the potential for passes versus shots, the angle at which you yourself best eliminate shooting areas on net, the speed and distance you traveling moving away and toward the goal line, anticipation by registering the body language and tendencies of specific players... not to mention actually stopping the puck and controlling rebounds.  I could go on and on.

To help prepare for this vast quantity of fast moving data, I used to practice the following exercise on the bus heading to away games, in the locker room before the game, during the National Anthem, between whistles, etc.  I found that the more I did this exercise, the better I performed.

The main objective of this excercise is two-fold:

  1. Strengthen your eyes physically, so you are better attuned to "finding" objects, and
  2. Condition your brain to become quicker at recognizing and comprehending objects and events.
The exercise itself is simple:
  1. Pick a couple objects in different places throughout the room.  For example, there may be a roll of tape on the floor in front of you, and there may be a water bottle on a chair at the other side of the room.
  2. Assign a name to each item.  For example, you can say "Tape" and "Bottle."
  3. Move your eyes between both items and say to yourself the name of the item.  You look at the roll of tape, and say "tape" to yourself, then quickly glance at the bottle and say "bottle."  Do this as accurately as you can before speeding up.  Always make sure you register the word you've designated to the item before moving on to the next item.
  4. Begin incorporating different objects... focus on near-to-far, left-to-right, up-to-down, and eventually moving objects.  I would usually cap off at about five or so objects.
Once you master this, you find that as the game starts, you are much better at instantly recognizing what's happening.  For me, I found it easier to locate pucks through screens and crowds along the boards, I was more precise in where I directed rebounds, I was better at scanning and anticipating passing and shooting lanes, and ultimately my body performed better thanks to the leadership of my visualization and fast comprehension skills.  Although I less often found myself in a position to make desperation saves, I was making them far more effectively.
I highly recommend this exercise to anyone, especially the boys as they look to finish this season on a high note.  Throwing on headphones and letting music carry your adrenaline is a completely different concept than helping your eyes and brain physically prepare for battle.  This is just another tool to help you make the most of your opportunity.
Signing Off,
Mr. RenegadePumpkin
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