I chalk up my first victory in a pool tournament to hyperfocus.
If you’ve seen For Love of the Game, you know that the major league pitcher, played by Kevin Costner, throws a perfect game at the end of his career. He says to himself, “Clear the mechanism” — and focuses only on the pitch he is about to throw. That’s what I learned to do in the pool hall.
I was an inconsistent player. I lost easy matches, but I occasionally beat professional players. I had the ability to excel, but lacked the mental skill to do so consistently. I was distracted by people talking, by a referee standing too close to me. It was my adult attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Then I discovered the other side of ADD.
At a pool match, I noticed that the pressure of competition made me focus completely on getting in position and making balls. I was in the zone. A mentor helped me harness this hyperfocus by establishing rituals. When walking into a pool hall, I keep to myself. I lightly touch the felt table, listen to the balls collide, and “see” them dropping into the pockets. This is how I “clear the mechanism” and bring on the focus needed to win.
Since winning a tournament, I’ve used this technique in other areas of my life. Hyperfocus helped me when I launched ADDer World, a social networking site for ADD adults. I couldn’t have written my book — One Boy’s Struggle: Surviving Life with Undiagnosed ADD — without it.
Hyperfocus is ADD’s gift to me — and to you.
This article comes from the Fall 2009 issue of ADDitude.
To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.