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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Zajdel, PhD

What Is Most Helpful to Focus on During a Performance?

Performing, be it on stage, on the field, or in the boardroom, is a balance between skill and focus. What you choose to direct your attention towards can significantly impact your performance. Let's explore what you should be prioritizing during those critical moments.

Present Moment Awareness:

One of the fundamental aspects of optimal performance is being fully present in the moment. Instead of letting your mind wander to past mistakes or future outcomes, anchor your focus in the present – the exact things happening at a given time. This cultivates mindfulness, enhancing your ability to respond effectively to the demands of the performance.

The Task at Hand:

Direct your attention to the task or activity you are engaged in. Whether it's executing a complex dance routine, delivering a presentation, or making a critical play, immerse yourself in the specific actions required. Breaking down the performance into manageable steps can help you stay focused and in control. You may focus on specific cues, the way your body feels when executing an action, or strategies to accomplish the task.

Breathing and Body Awareness:

Your breath and body are powerful anchors for focus. Pay attention to your breath, ensuring it remains steady and controlled. Be aware of your body posture and tension, adjusting as needed. This awareness not only enhances your physical performance but also contributes to a calm and centered mindset.

Positive Self-Talk:

Your internal dialogue can significantly influence your performance. Instead of dwelling on self-doubt, negative thoughts, or past mistakes, consciously shift your focus to your capabilities, strengths, and past successes. This positive mindset can boost confidence and resilience.

External Cues and Environment:

While maintaining internal focus is crucial, being attuned to external cues and the environment is equally important. Whether it's a change in the music tempo, a cue from a teammate, or the energy of the audience, staying connected to your surroundings can enhance adaptability and responsiveness.

Process Over Outcome:

It's natural to be driven by the desire for a successful outcome but fixating solely on the result can be counterproductive. Shift your focus to the process—the steps and actions that lead to the outcome. This approach not only reduces performance anxiety but also keeps you engaged in the moment-to-moment journey.

Emotional Regulation:

Acknowledge and manage your emotions during a performance. Rather than letting anxiety or excitement derail your focus, channel these emotions into productive energy. Embracing the ebb and flow of emotions with awareness can contribute to a balanced and composed performance.


Performances are dynamic, and unexpected challenges may arise. Train your focus on adaptability—being open to adjustments and quick decision-making. Flexibility in your approach allows you to navigate unforeseen circumstances with grace.

Small Wins:

Amidst the intensity of a performance, take moments to celebrate small victories. Whether it's nailing a specific move, delivering a compelling point, or making a successful play, acknowledging these accomplishments reinforces a positive mindset and boosts morale.

Learning Opportunities:

Every performance, whether flawless or challenging, presents learning opportunities. Instead of dwelling on perceived mistakes, shift your focus to understanding what you can glean from the experience. This mindset fosters continuous improvement and resilience.


Focusing during a performance is an art that requires intention and practice. By directing your attention to the present moment, the task at hand, and positive elements, you can enhance your performance and navigate challenges with grace. Remember, the spotlight is not just on the outcome but on the journey you are creating in each moment of your performance.

If you want to improve your focus, therapy can be helpful. Use the link below to get started with services!


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