10 Focus Tips to improve your Magic games
This article explains how focus work, and brings ten useful tips to improve it and, as a consequence, have better results upgrade in your Magic matchups!
What is Focus?
Reward System. In very basic lines, the brain uses past experiences and future simulations to decide if something will bring benefits or not, so when it receives a “yes”, that answer comes in the form of an important neurotransmitter for focus, called
Dopamine. Dopamine is the key to understanding focus because whenever an activity generates a positive reaction in the brain leading it to produce this neurotransmitter, we focus better, we concentrate on that activity, taking the greatest possible potential from it with every repertoire we have. That's the focus, and so, in the midst of a digital age where we are all the time being bombarded by information and social media reward systems that lead us to get addicted to dopamine, we need to understand that focusing on one activity at a time is the treasure at the end of the rainbow that will make us more sensitive to dopamine, thus staying focused on an activity even if it isn't as pleasurable as eating a cupcake or scrolling through the Instagram feed bar endlessly. Focus, as we can assume, is a skill that can be trained and there is no trigger point where a person has focus or not. Our focus varies for different situations and with different levels depending on how much our brain understands that activity as productive, pleasurable and useful or not. Focusing, then, is saying
noto everything else in the world, outside or inside your mind, other than what you are doing or thinking. This article will provide some ways to train your focus and will be divided into two parts in addition to this introduction. In the first one, I'll point out solutions that you can now apply to your Magic games or anything else you're going to do that requires quality. On the latter, I'll bring angular habits that will bring better chemistry to your brain, providing more resources for you to focus on matches and don't forget to always bolt the Birds before your opponent uses that mana, and you lose the entire match due to a single slide.
6 Tips to increase the focus on matchups
1. Auto-dialogueDialogue is the first and most accessible resource for focus, and almost a minimum requirement to apply all the hints in this text.
Self-dialogueis nothing more than the ability to verbalize in your mind logical issues and problems with choices that will happen in the middle of your matchup. Some people find it easier than others to verbalize conversations inside their minds, and if you have difficulty starting to “talk” inside your head, try starting with a normal voice in your room. The more this skill is honed, the better your organization of ideas will be during a match. Like everything else in this text, the self-dialogue skill is something that will be improved over time, but depending on your previous ability to engage in conversations and discussions with yourself, you will already notice a better attention in the game and your results will be improved with the coming of more logical and less impulsive plays. In case you don't know how to get started, I'll leave you a short list of questions below that you can use as the basis of your repertoire of internal dialogue during a match. Adapt them and create your own dialogue scheme to help you better rationalize your actions during a match. • Should I do this? • What will be the consequences if I make this play? • What happens if I don't? • He left these lands untapped, why? • Does he have (that card) in his hand? • With this hand, can I get a good start? • Should I mulligan, yes or no? • If he does that, what do I do with what I have in my hand? • He attacked with these creatures, and I have x life, what should I block or let go? • In which phase do I cast this creature or spell?
2. GoldfishingGoldfishing is that game where I shuffle my deck and pretend to be playing an invisible opponent. I create situations where he has answers for my deck, and I try to simulate a game focusing more on the interaction of the cards in my deck with each other. This is especially effective for combo decks that need very in-depth knowledge from the player of which hands to keep and which not to keep, for example.
3. Knowledge of basic rulesI had promised myself that I wouldn't say something any good Magic player should know. But this tip turned out to be much more necessary than I thought. In my experience, most store players or non-competitive players don't have clearly in their minds the orders of steps and phases of a Magic turn. That said, it seems almost obvious that better knowledge of the rules will give you more naturality when deciding the time and what to do in your matches. A practical example of this is the Spellstutter Sprite card.
4. Breath controlThis tip is where we started to get into actions that directly influenced your focus during the match. Breath control is something that is good not only to do during a game, but also to get into the habit of meditation. By focusing on the breath and observing it, we train our brain to focus on anything. But turning to a match, there are times when our thinking can become chaotic and our minds can start to wander. It could be that someone dropped something heavy and made a noise next to you, or someone keeps telling you about the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the next table... Whatever makes you snap out of your concentration, you can settle down just by controlling your breathing and using yourself dialogue to focus back on the match. In general, taking a deep breath and closing your eyes for a few seconds is effective in cutting out all the noise your mind makes. Exercise this, and over time you'll need fewer seconds to get back into that tense game.
5. Rituals and remindersRituals and mental reminders are ways to make the gaming experience less confined to the mind and make play and decisions multisensory. And what do I mean by multisensory? That's what you're thinking, in multiple senses.
6. Disconnect to rechargeFinally, among the practical tips you can apply today in your store, we have disconnection. The disconnect comes from our brain's need to recharge its motivation system every period of time. Research within neuroscience claims that the average time a person can stay focused varies between 50 minutes and 1 hour and a half. After this period, we feel the need to rest, as our brain temporarily loses the ability to focus attention on that particular category of activity. What do we do when this happens? That's what you're thinking! Although it seems counter-intuitive, between one match and another, it is necessary not to think about Magic. "But how so? I've finished a match, so will I have to think about anything other than Magic until the next match?” Yes, my friend! When we focus on a single activity for an extended period of time, it is necessary that we focus on another activity of a different nature so that that part used by our brain can rest and recharge our energies to come back super focused again for the next matchup! In a store, in the middle of a championship, it would be difficult for you to do something like washing the dishes or sweeping the place, these two activities being the best thing to catch your attention after spending long minutes using your head for something logical like a card game which complexity is comparable to chess. Therefore, talking about anything that is not Magic and that does not generate any kind of stress or force you to reason logically would be a good thing to do. If you can, ideally close your eyes and relax for 10 or 15 minutes. This relaxation will recharge your energy and motivate your brain to focus fully the next time you require it to decide whether to counter your opponent's Karn or leave mana to cast your Collected Company at the end of turn.
Habits to improve your brain chemistry
1. Enjoy the SunshineMany people consider themselves to be nocturnal and end up exchanging day for night in search of more comfort or productivity. The big problem with this is that studies indicate that our eyes have receptors that capture sunlight and regulate our sleep cycle. When we change the day for the night, we spend less time awake in contact with the sun's rays, which brings, in the long run, a drastic decrease in our capacity of motivation and focus. The tip is to wake up as early as possible and enjoy the sunlight, stay in a bright environment and sleep as close to the sunset as possible. I'm not saying that with this you'll have to wake up when the rooster crows and sleep when the sun goes down. But the earlier you wake up and the less time you spend awake in low light, the less you will need to use alarm clocks to wake up and the more your body's ability to be awake during the day you will have.
2. Eating small amounts of good quality foodThis tip is simple, but not so well applied in society. Eating small amounts and foods of good nutritional quality will improve your body's health and, consequently, your brain's health (even because the brain is part of the body, right?). The tip is to eat well, but not too much. Eating well is also about choosing lighter foods at night and stronger foods in the morning. You'll also notice that by eating better quality food, your mood will also improve. The key to good focus is a balanced combination of high mood and moderate stress, just to the point of keeping us on our toes. Good nutrition will help you get there.
3. Physical activitiesI don't intend to go into too much of this topic. Physical activities are paramount, but what everyone complains about is that they are painful and cost time in our day. The tip is to use the time when you need to sunbathe early in the day to go for a light walk or ride a bike. Anything much longer than 20 minutes a day will be enough to greatly improve your living quality. Over time, you will notice that your mental clarity and focus will improve and, if you want, you can even increase this time to seek even more quality in your life. Physical activity is an important part of the focus, when we move our body we reduce pain and discomfort that may arise with sedentary lifestyle, and all these symptoms take the focus and consequently reduce your ability to make decisions.
4. Sleep wellTo be blunt, sleeping less than 7 hours a night is not healthy for anyone. Of course, I consider that there are people who work too hard and end up feeling the need to sleep less to have more time to do their daily activities. This is not effective, as when you get less sleep than necessary, your irritability and intolerance to boring activities increases. Neurological studies indicate that when sleeping 6 hours a night for a week, patients had an income similar to people who just spent a whole night without sleep.