Mental Preparation to Get in The Zone
“In the zone” is a term that describes that can’t miss feeling.
Figure skaters in the zone feel like they can repeatedly nail their routines and stick their landings.
Unfortunately, many skaters are fear-ridden and anxious as they take the ice.
A young figure skater once opened up about her experiences on the ice…
She loves watching the older girls practice their routines. She watches them perform their jumps effortlessly and flawlessly. They seem to be having so much fun on the ice. Then, she examines her routines…
She is nervous even before she starts her program. She mentally sees herself falling several times throughout her program.
She thinks of the last time she skated which turned out to be disastrous. She can feel the eyes of the spectators on her and she can’t remember, let alone focus on her routine.
How can a figure skater get in zone?
Let’s examine how an elite athlete from another sport gets in the zone–the principles are the same for skaters.
Golden State Warrior point guard, Klay Thompson, recently had a record-setting performance where he scored 60 points in 29 minutes on 46 TOUCHES. That is 1.36 points per touch. That’s being in the zone for sure!
Thompson talked about how he felt during the game.
THOMPSON: “I felt great, obviously. It was fun. I was in a great rhythm. I took all good shots, for the most part… It was a fun night, to say the least.”
What is more valuable regarding how to get in the zone is what Thompson did not say.
Thompson didn’t talk about improved mechanics or making history nor did he worry about his 19 missed shots… He was immersed in the moment, enjoying playing the game.
Thompson struggled with his stroke earlier in the season; he over-thought his shot and took his focus off of just playing. Thompson decided he needed a change in his mindset if he was to perform optimally on a consistent basis.
THOMPSON: “Sticking with it and not getting discouraged. I knew I was going to have a good year if I just play hard every night. It’s that simple. Nothing I really changed. I kept my same routine. I just think I let a few missed shots get to me. And I realized I’m too good to do that.”
The zone is about “the now.” The zone is the present.
The past is outside of the zone… Where you freak out about mistakes, previous falls, your rival who scored higher than you in the previous competition, a bad week of practice, etc.
The future is also outside of the zone… Your potential ranking, your score, how others may judge your performance or fear of not placing.
Getting into the zone is a matter of immersing yourself in the moment… Enjoying what you are doing and focusing on your mental choreography during the routine.
Getting in the zone is a matter of getting into your bubble on the ice and trusting what you have practiced.
Try this tip to get into your performance zone:
Focus outwards – When you retreat inside your head and focus on negative outcomes, you are not only replaying unproductive mental images but you are compounding the impact of those images with strong negative emotions.
By focusing outwards, you can get out of your own head and out of your own way. Have a settling effect and quiet the mental negative chatter that interferes with your performance.
It’s time for you to perform like you know you can… Get in the zone!
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“She is very focused and very confident”
“Ashley wanted me to let you know that she placed very well at her competition this past weekend, thanks to you! She won the short, won the long, and had her personal best. She now looks at her competitions like ice shows and has fun. It is really nice to see her thoroughly enjoying the skate. She is very focused and very confident. We definitely attribute this to you.”
~Brenda Glassco, Skating Parent
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“It was amazing!!! Before the show, I really felt like I was becoming the part. I was oddly calm, which concerned me because I thought my nerves might kick in on stage! But, they didn’t! I stayed focused in each moment, and remained calm, and actually did the difficult tricks better than I ever have! My coaches were all so proud of me and the one who I know the best was marveling at my calm, poised manner throughout the ballet. They said it seemed like I was doing it for the 15th time, I looked so comfortable. This is the result of my work with you! You gave me the tools to tackle this huge mountain of a role, step by step! I am beyond happy!”
~Professional Ballerina, Student of Dr. Cohn in 2013