"You really don't think about the magnitude of making or missing it, you just think about trying to get the best shot that you can get. It went in today, but I think it's the best shot I could have got in that situation."
--Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs rookie, who miraculously sent the fifth game of the NBA series into overtime with a three-point shot on Wednesday night.
Neal is an undrafted 26-year-old rookie and former European journeyman who the Spurs signed this season after giving him an audition on their summer league team. Neal's shot tied the score and helped the Spurs to rally to keep them from elimination.
Neal was the NBA rookie leader in three-point shooting percentage this year.
Peak performance in any sport requires a tremendous amount of mental energy to maintain focus on the multiple factors that need your attention. Split-second decisions regarding play selection, direction and speed of your shot, best steps for execution, an assessment of your opponent's capabilities, the condition of the court, etc. all require one to maintain a high level of focus during actual play.
Researchers in psychology and physiology have determined that individuals must regulate this high focus or it will lose its overall effectiveness and potency through continual use, resulting in "focus fatigue."
The time between plays or points needs to be used to relax, to wind down, to move into a lower level focus state and to regroup in preparation for the next point or play. The next play or point will again require a high level of focus.
Excerpts from the HuffingtonPost.com (April 28, 2011) and Focus: Peak Performance Field Guide #4.