Tag Archives: Improve concentration

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 3: Effective exercises for everyday life

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positioning for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 3, Chessimo will introduce you to a few effective exercises that can easily be practiced during everyday life and help you raise your concentration level.

Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Outdoor Exercises

1. Look at the windows up on house fronts and imagine they were chess fields. Then try to imagine how to move the Knight in order to touch each and every window once. This can easily be practiced in rooms with tiles on walls and floors also.

2. If you have bad sense for direction or lack spatial perception, the following exercises might be helpful (the also help develop an intuitive sense for positioning on the board):

  • Imagine rooms, buildings, and ways that you have passed, maybe on your way to work or home, or whilst shopping), from a bird perspective. Try to sketch a ground plan in your head.
  • Look at objects in your surrounding and imagine they were folded from a single piece of paper. Try to figure out how you would have to unfold the object and what the sheet of paper would look like.

3. When going to work or the local supermarket look for small stops on the way, such as the next massive tree, bus stop or other things that you pass on the way. When you start walking count your steps from one to five. Then begin again, counting from one to six. Then from one to seven, and so on. Once you’ve reached one of your predetermined stops start from the beginning. Also count your steps while climbing stairs or every third step when running.

4. Whilst driving: Read the license tag of the car in front of you and build a sentence from its letters. Example: PC3 – I47F ‘Playing Checkmate Is Fun’

Indoor Exercises

1. Focus on counting a certain letter while reading a newspaper article, an online blog, or anything else. Advancers can focus on two or three different letters without losing track or being distracted from comprehending the content.

2. Whilst listening to the radio or watching television reduce the volume so that you are only able to understand what is said in a state of high concentration. Begin with only a short period of time, just a few minutes, as this is extremely exhaustive. Over time you will be able to stretch this period of concentrated listening.

3. Pick a word that is often said on the radio or television (with, and, but, ..). Take fifteen minutes of your time and count how often this particular word is said.

Exercises With A Partner

1. You have a nice colleague with whom you are often stuck in long meetings? Team up and use this time to work on your concentration capabilities while having fun! Sit across from your partner and make a small gesture, such as scratching your ear, folding your arms, or tapping on your coffee mug. You partner will then repeat your gesture and ass another. You take turns repeating the previous gestures and adding new ones.

2. Use a cozy evening in front of the TV for some brain jogging. While watching a movie together, add all the numbers that are mentioned in your head and compare results afterwards.

3. Completing each other’s sentences is not only power of soul mates. Play a game with your partner, child, colleague, or friend in which you take turns saying words that must add up to an adequate sentence. Ideal would be the creation of a small story.

Exercises On Paper

1. Take pen and paper and write down the shopping list with your left hand (left-handed people must use their right hand) or learn a new font, such as Old German or Old English. This process requires a high amount of concentration.

2. Take a handful of spaghetti and let them fall onto the table like Mikado Sticks. Then draw this formation from any perspective and try to catch all the lines and angles in the right dimensions. Soon you will be able to do this while talking to a client on the phone.

3. Write short notes, for example at work, I mirror writing. With a little practice you’ll be able to even do it while phoning a customer.

Exercises With Your Body

Who wants to improve the interaction of the two hemispheres of the brain, is best advised to do this with crisscross exercises.

1. Touch your right knee with your left elbow and then your left knee with your right elbow. The classical Jumping Jack is also good practice.

2. Crisscross exercises work perfectly behind the back too: Touch your left foot with your right hand and the other way around.

3. It draws less attention if you do small crisscross exercises, for example at work. Try making small and subtle crisscross moves with your fingers and hands, or with your feet underneath your desk. Tracing the lines of an 8 with your eyes is also an effective exercise that strengthens your memory.

4. Who recognizes a decrease in concentration abilities (fatigue, exhaustion) in tournaments or other moments in life can regain energy with the stimulation of several different acupressure points. Take your earlobes between index fingers and thumbs and slightly pull on them. Work your way up to the tips of your ears and gently pull them to the sides. Repeat this massage two or three times.

To conclude, we can also recommend practicing particular sports and learning methods of muscle relaxation that have severe impact on one’s concentration capabilities. Some of these are Yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 2: Creating optimal mental conditions

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positioning for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 2 of the trilogy, Chessimo will in introduce you to the mental conditions that will raise concentration abilities to optimum. Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Tension

It has been scientifically proven that one can the maximum of concentration capacity at medium tension level. In plain language: too much tenseness and anxiety block the player’s capabilities, while too little of it can be discouraging and does not stimulate the brain in order to achieve maximum performance. The difficult task is to find the right balance. As the majority of chess players is more than likely not dealing with casualness during tournaments, we have put together a few tips for you to reduce your stress and anxiety levels before duels:

  • Place your hand flat on your stomach and feel the flow of your breath. Feel how your hand slowly lifts when you breathe in and then slowly breathe out. Try to focus on nothing but your breath and do this exercise several minutes until you feel better.
  • Close your eyes and tighten all muscles of your body for a few seconds until you feel a slight ache. Then relax the musculature and for a few minutes consciously sense this feeling. Who is familiar with Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation is well advised to practice according to his instructions
  • Laugh! Laughing automatically helps the body reduce tenseness and leaves behind a feeling of relaxation and comfort. Who profits from this before tournaments can set up a playlist of funny videos to watch before the duels start.
  • Listen to music! Who is fond of classical music is in advantage. This type of music has been proven to relax unborn in their mothers’ wombs. Add Giovanni Allevi to the favorite playlist on your iPod and dive deep into the calming sounds 15 minutes before the tournament begins.

Surrounding

The more familiar one is with their surroundings, the higher the level of concentration. This is what they say in science. Supposedly, the falling level of concentration can be compensated by taking along a familiar item. A talisman next to the board can’t hurt.

Losing track of thoughts

The arch enemy of concentration is intellectual straying. One thought leads to another and one has already lost the common threat. Here is a selection of tips for those who are confronted with challenges in their lives that consume all thoughts and cannot rest for a few hours:

  • When going to bed the night before a tournament, take pen and paper and write down in bullet points all thoughts, worries, or even solutions that come to your mind spontaneously. This helps slowing down the merry go round of private and professional life. ‘Paused’ thoughts can later on be picked up again with the help of this paper.
  • Who is fighting the need to think far ahead and around many corners, needs to try to focus on the essentials of the moment during the game. Mantras like ‘Solve the problem!’ or ‘Find the best move!’ can be extraordinarily helpful to keep the head in the game and to focus on the current positioning.

Tolerance for frustration

Who has little tolerance for frustration is definitely in disadvantage. This causes concentration to break down, while all efforts to success are cut out after a moment of disappointment. Such disappointment may be defeat in practice or tournament, and even a single move that doesn’t satisfy to the fullest or triggers a countermove that hasn’t been accounted for. As long as the game isn’t lost just yet, it is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. On the contrary, one should fight the disappointment and continue the battle. To work on the tolerance for frustration and personal expectations it is important to closely watch the own attitude during each and every practice. ‘It is okay to make mistakes. I will reach my goal all the same. Now I will concentrate on solving the problem.’ Praise yourself and pat yourself on the back. Not only for victories but also for small successful steps and achievements, because every single step is a step towards your goal.

Read more about how to improve your ability to concentrate! In Part 3 we will focus on effective exercises for your daily routine ..

 

 written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

 

 

 

How Do I Improve My Ability To Concentrate?

Part 1: Creating optimal physical conditions

According to Wikipedia, concentration is defined as focusing all attention on one particular activity, reaching a short-term goal, or solving an assigned problem. It is no surprise then, that concentration in chess tournaments is one of the essential keys to success.

KonzentrationIt’s all about not getting distracted, about concentrating on the given positionings for up to six hours, about calculating, estimating, and maneuvering without straying from the subject. As this requires high intellectual effort, many players (even professionals) face problems in the persistence and continuity of keeping up concentration during such long periods of time. Even players like the grandmaster Jan Gustafsson report headaches and difficulties in concentrating after five hours.

The capability to concentrate depends on several influential factors which we will be discussing in the three parts of this month’s column: The body, the mind, and the practice.

Today, in Part 1, Chessimo will introduce you to the physical conditions that create optimal powers of concentration.

Who sticks to the following recommendations will be able to significantly improve their concentration in practice and at tournaments.

Nutrition

A balanced and healthy diet supports the ability to concentrate. Hereby it is important to include an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. To cover the body’s daily need, we recommend linseed oil, hempseed oil, walnut oil, and rapeseed oil for cooking. Exotic types of oil, such as chia oil, perilla oil, and sacha inchi oil contain an even larger amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish should also be a regular component of your meals: salmon, anchovy, herring, mackerel, and white tuna also contain the important fatty acids.

Evenly important is a steady supply of vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamin B. The different types of Vitamin B are found in fish, liver products, dairy products, broccoli, spinach, and green cabbage. The Vitamin B12, by the way, cannot be found in any plant products and can only be supplied to the body through animal food products (vegetarians are advised to add nutritional supplements to their daily diet).

Another important element is a balanced blood glucose level (also known as blood sugar level). The brain is reliant on steady glucose delivery to function perfectly. Who recognizes a reduced brain performance or even suffers from shaky hands and increased perspiration, is likely to have low blood glucose level. Glucose is also referred to a dextrose and is supplied to the body by sufficient food intake. Skipping breakfast on the tournament day out of nervousness is therefore not an option. Since the blood sugar level decreases a few hours after ingestion, players should take in small snacks, such as apples or pears, during the tournament. Concentrated dextrose can also help boosting the brain performance. But as the effect diminishes quickly, it should be used only towards the end of the tournament day.

Sleep

A good night sleep is essential. Tiredness limits our ability to concentrate tremendously. There is no certain answer to the question of how many hours of sleep an adult needs per night. People’s needs are as diverse as their genetic make-up. Generally, the nightly rest should last somewhere between six and eight hours. Less or more hours of sleep, can have equally negative impact on the body which is scientifically proven. One factor that is often paid too little attention to is the accordance of the sleeping and tournament rhythm.

A so-called ‘Powernap’ can also severely improve concentration during tournaments. It is a small nap during the day that lasts about 10 to 20 minutes. During this time, the cerebrum regenerates. The art is to wake up after 20 minutes, before the so-called deep sleep (REM) phase kicks in. Sleep scientists agree that such short periods of sleep improve our concentration, performance, and responsiveness (Companies like BASF, Opel, and Lufthansa even provide space and time for power-napping at the work place).

Exercise

Cardio is another key element to optimal ability to concentrate. Who plays sports that require high endurance (like soccer or basketball) is already on the right track. Even better are pure endurance sports, such as hiking, walking, nordic walking, jogging, marathons, biking, ergometer training, speed skating, ice skating, swimming, cross-country, triathlons, rowing, paddling, and mountain climbing. Optimal are approximately 30 minutes per day. Who practices several of these endurance sports is recommended to be very aware of the movements and feel the body while moving. This is also not the place and time for analysis – free your mind from your thoughts and try to withdraw from the world for a while. Who is absolutely unathletic and rather avoids exercising can still make progress by juggling. It is also recommended to get up during tournaments and walk around once concentration has begun to fade.

Drinking

Sufficient liquid intake is indispensable. Drinking is important before, during, and after the duel. Similar to glucose (see 1st subtopic), players are advised to forego beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, coke, and energy drinks, as the energy boost is only a short-term effect.

Read more about how to improve your ability to concentrate! In Part 2 we will focus on the mind and psyche..

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe