• Question: how would an athlete get in the zone

    Asked by spursboy to Kate, Mark U, Tess, Yue on 3 May 2012.
    • Photo: Yue Zheng

      Yue Zheng answered on 3 May 2012:

      Hi Spursboy, different athletes have different strategies of their own. For example, some would repeat the track they are going to be on; some may image the moments of their previous victories. BBC is running a lab test related to your question, done by a Michael Johnson, a Olympic Gold Metalist. Have a go yourself =)

    • Photo: Mark Uphill

      Mark Uphill answered on 3 May 2012:

      Hi Spursboy, when you find out maybe you could let me know? 🙂 There are lots of different factors that influence sport performance, and athletes who try to get in their “zone” are really trying to increase the probability of performing well. The first thing an athlete might want to do is think about the occasions when s/he performed really well; how was it that they were feeling and thinking at this time? The next step might be to try and re-create those thoughts and feelings so that the athlete is feeling, confident, focussed and prepared for the competition. Strategies that could be used include music, visualistion, goal setting, self-talk. Importantly, the psychological state that is appropriate for one athlete, may not be the same for another and the strategies that they use may also be different!

    • Photo: Kate Davies

      Kate Davies answered on 3 May 2012:

      Hiya spursboy, this is entirely dependant upon the athlete themselves. For an athlete to get in the zone they will go though a process know as psychological preparation, which varies athlete to athlete. In most cases it revolves around the senses, as Yue has said they may replay a previous performance. Others may imagine themselves during the upcoming performance for example bob-sleighers attempt to remember every turn and sense the movement (as in cool runnings) some may use music to calm them or a good manager will inspire their athletes, breathing exercises is another common one.

      It is commonly believed that performance is linked to arousal (PE- GCSE/A-Level bit here!!!) The Yerkes-Dodson law presented a bell shaped curve that represents how athletes performed in relation to how aroused they were, some of the techniques i described above will be employed by athletes to get them to that optimum state, others may prepare just below it and use triggers during performance, such as the national anthems) to tip over into it. But it is a personal thing and revolves a lot around trial and error. Hope this helps