What is the Zone?
Almost every athlete who comes to see me is interested in what the zone is and in what they can do to get into the zone more often.
The zone is a state of mind which is marked by a sense of calmness.
In addition, there is a heightened sense of awareness and focus. In this state of mind there is no self-criticism and the person is living in the present. That is, the person who is functioning in the “here and now.”
Actions seem effortless and there is an increased belief that your dreams or goals can become achievable and real.
Furthermore, there is also a sense of enjoyment and delight in this unique, special and magical state of being.
The zone parallels the mental state that people often experience when they are hypnotized by a therapist or via self-hypnosis.
When I interview an athlete about their mental state during competition, I assess how relaxed, confident and focused they feel when they are involved in their sport.
I also question them about the level of enjoyment they are getting from their sport.
Barriers To Getting Into The Zone
Some of the barriers to getting into the zone include: anxiety, anger, frustration, self-criticism, inability to control distractions, negative self-talk, worrying about the future, living in the past, inability to let go of bad performances, difficulty focusing on the essential elements of your sport, burnout, depression, substance abuse, unwillingness to work hard at both mental and physical training, poor diet, poor sleeping patterns, an inability to manage ups and downs, lack of the right support system by family members, parents, coaches and team mates, difficulty recovering from an injury and boredom with training methods.
How To Get Into The Zone More Often
In order to improve their performance and help them to enter the zone more often, we eliminate the barriers to getting into the zone and help them to be as relaxed, confident and focused as they can be when engaged in their sport.
Sometimes a small change in their training regime or in their mental preparation can act as trigger to entering the zone more often.
A boxer who I worked with decided to listen to a particular song prior to entering the ring to enter the zone and active the right level of aggressiveness.
A tennis player was trained to clear her mind by adjusting her strings in between points.
A baseball pitcher selected a simple mantra which allowed him to enter a hypnotic state when he was on the mound.
A triathlete imagined himself as a high tech machine that could run perform efficiently and without fatigue on land and in water.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist, author and the Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com
He has been featured in many major media outlets and he has counseled elite athletes from around the world in every sport.