The Elusive “Zone” State
If you’re an athlete, chances are you know what people are talking about when they refer to being “in the zone”: That feeling you get when everything starts to flow, anything is possible, and everything clicks.
Except that this state doesn’t usually happen as often as we’d like and the ability to get ourselves there is probably one of the hardest/most valuable skills we as athletes can learn.
So how do we go about developing it?
1. Figure out what state of mind in which you perform best.
Think about the last time you killed it (in training or competition) and try to remember your mood at the time…
Angry? Focused? Energized? Calm?
If you can figure out what has worked for you in the past, you can use this knowledge to help you in the future.
2. Practice Immersing yourself in that state.
Close your eyes and try to take yourself back to your last “in the zone” experience and focus on how you felt…
the flow, the confidence, your ability to block out discomfort and push past your limits
…and see if you can hold yourself in that moment.
3. Develop a pre-lift (or pre-competition) ritual.
Many of us actually have this (though we may not realize it) — some sort of routine we use to get mentally psyched up. Next time you train, pay attention to what you do before attempting a big lift:
Yell? Stamp your feet? Clench your fists?
Whatever it is you do, play around with it and try to create something that helps you feel ready and focused.
Before you actually go for a lift, imagine yourself hitting it and try to focus on how it feels, looks, even sounds. And then do it again… and again… so that by the time you step onto the platform you don’t doubt your ability to do it because you know what it will feel like.