Guest Post: Getting in the zone: Mental preparation starts earlier than you think

This is another guest post from Tristan Greaves of http://extricate.org/
Tristan is a qualified football and Judo referee who often pops down to practice at Windsor Judo Club – In fact, guest-post is pushing our luck… we’ll have to start paying him a wage soon…

You’ve a big event coming up where you really want to do well. It might be a sporting event. Perhaps you are presenting to a large number of people? Either way, you start to get a little nervous. A fear of failure starts to set in and you start thinking about the consequences of that failure. In fact, wouldn’t it be easier to just pull out of the event? Anything to take this anxiety away!
A well-discussed strategy here is ‘getting in the zone’. Essentially, focusing the mind and setting out with the best mental attitude and a ‘will win’ strategy. A key here is to visualise the event going amazingly well and any opposition doing amazingly badly.. hey, YOU are the winner!
I’ve certainly had to dig deep with this when competing in judo competitions. It can be a very lonely place when ultimately it is you versus one other and there is nobody else to ‘blame’. So the sorts of visualisation which apply would be along the lines of:

  • Sequence of gripping up, everything going well, being able to move my opponent wherever I wanted to.
  • Being able to execute any of my techniques really easily.
  • The techniques being successful!
  • Clever avoidance of anything my opponent would be trying to do.

For public speaking? Why, could be you confidently standing on the stage, no “umms” or “ahhs” and your speech being incredibly well received. Lots of quality feedback afterwards: Just see their happy faces!
You can apply this technique to pretty much anything: Try it!
However the above examples are REALLY MISSING A TRICK and I cannot emphasise this enough!
Where has the above process started? At the time the activity itself begins. In my personal example this was the start of a judo contest. The thing is, this is the exact point those fears vanish and your body starts to run on adrenaline anyway.
What about earlier in the day? Waking up? Having breakfast? Driving to the venue? Weighing in? Meeting up with friends and quite possibly competitors who have beaten you before? Are you ready to see someone who you will be competing against who looks particularly ’scary’?
The most stressful time will be BEFORE the event, not during it.
There should be no surprises. In any mental preparation strategy you need to be considering the whole. This means including how you are calm and controlled from the moment you arrive at the venue up to the moments immediately before it is your turn.
In anything competitive, how you project yourself not just beneficial to your own confidence: If you give the impression of ‘knowing no fear’ then that will have a negative effect on your competitors who have not prepared as well as you have!
Get in the zone. Just remember that the zone starts earlier than you might originally have thought.

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