Teaching athletes to understand their attention is teaching them to concentrate

Alex Oliver, Paul J. McCarthy, Lindsey Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Concentration, focusing on the most relevant information for further processing, is regarded as a prerequisite for successful sporting performance. Athletes must possess awareness, knowledge, and controllability of their attention to concentrate effectively. One way to develop this awareness, knowledge, and controllability of attention is through the mechanism of meta-attention – thinking about, knowing about, and controlling attention. Meta-attention illuminates the underlying cognitive mechanisms that direct the attentional spotlight. We open with a brief background of attention and outline how concentration can be understood through a metacognitive lens. Next, we present Think Aloud Level 3 as a tool for capturing meta-attentional processes during sport performance. Finally, we discuss the applied implications of adopting a meta-attentional approach to understand concentration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-210
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Sport Psychology in Action
Issue number3
Early online date4 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2021


  • attention
  • concentration
  • meta-attention
  • metacognition
  • think aloud
  • athletes


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