Into The Zone

The Zone 2What is it and how do we get there? 

The Zone: Also known as flow, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the execution of the activity. In essence, the zone is characterized by complete absorption in the process.

The Zone is the state of mind where records are broken, goals are reached and dreams are made… It’s where all the magic happens.

Training your mind to develop sharp mental focus is a key skill for success in Kettlebell Sport. The ability to get and stay in The Zone helps set the stage for an environment that is conducive for optimal peak performance.

Kettlebell Sport is a physically tough enough gig as it is, what’s even tougher is doing it with sabotaging self-doubt, trepidation and negative thoughts swirling around your head.

Everyone is capable of getting into The Zone, it’s actually hard wired into our DNA. It’s our “Flight or Fight” response to immediate trauma & stress.

Here’s what happens when it’s called into action:

  • Your heart rate quickens.
  • Your breathing slows and your skin sensitivity heightens.
  • Your eyes create the illusion that everything happens in slow motion. In a crisis, that’s so you can look for an avenue of escape, or fight off an adversary.
  • Blood gets diverted to your brain and to the large muscles; this gives you mental clarity, as well as inordinate speed, strength, balance, and agility.
  • Your conscious mind shuts down; your intuition takes over.

Sound familiar?

Some people feel these cues and begin to panic, losing physical and mental control. In a sports context it’s commonly referred to as “Choking.” For example, quitting the set or losing focus and dropping the Bell.

On the other hand some people feel immediately at home, with feelings of euphoria as all of their mind and body faculties’ harmonically synchronize into one, 100% ready to take on the task at hand… This is The Zone.

Just like we train our bodies to compete and endure we need to spend just as much, if not more time training our minds. One can’t succeed without the other.

Here are 3 tricks that I use to help myself get into The Zone. They work quite well for me, hopefully they’ll work just as well for you:

The Reboot 

Before I think about touching the Bell I hit “Crtl-Alt-Delete”. Our brains are like a computer, if too many windows are open, things tend to slow and freeze. It’s important to channel our focus on the task at hand versus sharing it with mindless, sabotaging thought. There’s nothing that will kill a set quicker.

Here’s my reboot sequence;

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Unclench your jaw.
  3. Consciously slow your breathing. Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth.
  4. Shut down the open windows in your brain and visualize a dark screen.
  5. Hold that image for as long as it takes to vividly see the dark screen and for calm to take over.

Click the Light Switch

Click the switch one way the light goes on, click it the other the light goes off, it never fails. It’s a great metaphor, but it’s also a great technique for finding the zone and staying there.

Here’s how to do it;

  1. Imagine your head as a light switch.
  2. Shut your eyes, lower your head to your chest and hold the negative thought.
  3. Raise your head to the ceiling & lower it to your chest 3 times.
  4. Open your eyes.

When you raise your head the negative thought dissipates. When you drop your head it comes back. By the third repetition the negative thought almost always drifts away.

I guess Mom was right: Keep your chin up.

Create an “I” Statement

 Your subconscious brain can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in a moment of flux, scared and frightened because a dream seemed so real and lifelike? It’s because it usually takes a few moments for your subconscious mind to separate between the two.

Whenever you feel a negative thought a positive affirmation will help get you back in the game.

For example, if you’re having a hard time getting up for your set or a comp, use an affirmation like “I got this” or “I own this!” anything that will help you conjure up a subconscious vision of success.

See it, say it, and believe it!

Just as it takes time and patience to master your lifting technique it takes the same to master The Zone.

Practice these three techniques and in time you’ll enter the zone at will, developing more self-discipline, concentration, optimism and you will feel more, calm, relaxed and more connected, when it matters the most.

The Zone… It’s where inspiration & dreams translate into action & results.

See you on the platform.

Coach Tim Bell

OKC / IKSFA Level 1 Sport Coach & Competitor

6th Dan ITA / WTF Black Belt

http://www.bellstaekwondo.com

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