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Zone Perfect

Zone Perfect

In Psychology and Sport: Finding the Zone

What you need to have "the perfect game?" All athletes in any sport knows what those two words mean, and can spend his entire career trying to have a flawless performance. Many young athletes have problems with consistency of sports scores, and have no idea why. They can enter the season in great shape, possessing the skills and refined the sport requires, have a solid game plan intact after eating and sleeping well all week antiquities, but still inconsistent during the competition. What is the missing ingredient? The answer is inside the skull. Sport psychology is one of the most ignored and undervalued aspects of sport performance. Many psychological factors, such as memory, concentration level of excitement, anxiety and stress can dramatically affect sports performance.

Attention in Sport

According to William James, the attention is "the taking of possession by the mind in clear and vivid form, of one of what seem several simultaneous objects possible or lines of thought. "(Huang & Lynch, 1992)

Memory can be held in one of three basic systems. The sensory system of regular has large amounts of information over a short period of time. A long-term memory has small amounts of information over a long period of time, and the system of short-term memory is the crossing between the two. (Cox, 1998) To put this in perspective, long-term memory ability is maintained as a trickle of basketball. The short-term memory is maintained scouting report of the opposing team. The regular system is responsible for sensory awareness in the game, such as the flow of play and adjustment the opposition of strong players.

Athletes must respond in some way to his state of the environment. The greater the amount of information transmitting a situation makes it more difficult to answer. However, through careful analysis, the difficulty of a situation can be reduced. (Cox, 1998), for example, lets compare two baseball players with the same talent. Player A has done its homework in his next opponent. He knows that the pitcher faced is a lefty who likes to throw a fastball that reaches 85 mph. Also, take a change of speed at 70 mph and a splitter that breaks left. The player B is presented for the game having no knowledge of his opponent. The amount of information that player A has to be taken while in the batting player is considerably lower than B. Of course, he will have a higher success rate because it has a better idea of what to expect.

Information content can also be reduced with the level of skill. The most refined skill of an athlete is in a game situation, the less information he or she should consider. (Cox, 1998)


Anxiety is another factor that contributes to athletic performance. There are two basic types of anxiety that apply: the state of anxiety somatic and cognitive. Somatic anxiety is the physical component of anxiety. It's the feeling of butterflies in the stomach before a game. A degree of somatic anxiety is perfectly healthy.

cognitive anxiety, however, can be costly. It is the mental component of anxiety that causes feelings of worry, insecurity and loss of self-esteem.

Before a sports performance, certain levels of both types of anxiety are expected, the increase in intensity as it approaches event. During exercise, the intensity must be changed. Somatic anxiety is the best in the middle levels are too high or too low can hurt a performance. cognitive anxiety may be more costly at higher levels.


Of course, every athlete perceived anxiety differently. The athlete must work to find their own optimal level of arousal. (Cox, 1994)

Arousal refers to the degree of activation bodies and mechanisms that are controlled by the autonomic nervous system of the body. More specifically, the sympathetic nervous system is primarily responsible for changes in bodily functions associated with arousal. This system is activated by environmental stimuli perceived as threatening.

arousal level has a direct effect in reducing attention. The increased arousal has a narrowing effect on attention. Sports that require a comprehensive approach should have levels lowest excitation. By contrast, the decrease of excitation has a larger effect on attention, so the sports that require narrow focus should have higher levels of arousal.

Finding the right level of concentration depends on the type of sport being played or action ongoing. (Cox, 1998) If you have too low a level of excitement, can be easily distracted by things that do not apply to the game. If the level of arousal is too high, the athlete may be too focused on one aspect of the game, and forget other important aspects. For example, a golfer can worry too much about hitting the ball hard that forgets its mechanics, and hooks the ball to the left.

Selective attention is another important feature of a successful athlete. Being able to eliminate unnecessary information and focus on the tasks of application is a skill that can be learned. It is useful for understanding this concept to the table approach. Imagine two perpendicular lines. At the ends of the vertical line that is external focus and internal focus. At the ends of the horizontal line is broad approach and narrow focus. (Hatfield, 2004) As mentioned above, different sports require different levels of care, and even within a sport, the different positions may require different levels of care. A quarterback would need to broaden focus to explore the countryside and see all of his receivers. A cornerback (the defensive player the primary responsibility is to cover the receivers) would have a narrow focus. A quarterback with too narrow a focus can throw a ball without seeing the defender in position to intercept the pass. A corner with too broad an approach would be likely to lose sight of their man, and give up a big play. Strike a balance correct wide and narrow and internal market / external orientation for a particular task in a sport is key to success.

After suffering a setback during a match, it is important for the athlete to keep his focus. Redirecting after a blunder, bad call, or any distraction can be the difference between a good player and a champion. First, move to the negative thoughts with positive. Secondly, attention should be focused internally, and make small adjustments in the level of arousal. So you have to change the external focus on the task at hand. At this point, the athlete has hopefully forgotten distraction and is ready to run. (Loehr, 1994)

Mental strength is a term thrown around expendably by coaches of youth and physical education teachers. The fact is that the acquisition of the components of the mental strength needed to become a great athlete. The tenacity can be understood by those four categories. First, an athlete must be emotionally flexible. He / she should be able to roll with the emotional twists in a sporting event. The athlete must be emotionally sensitive, being able to maintain awareness play under pressure. The athlete must be emotionally strong, be able to exert great strength and resist and continue to fight for victory under pressure. Finally, the athlete must be emotionally tough, rebound quickly from mistakes. These skills can be learned. The best way to improve as an athlete is to recognize weaknesses and correct practice. (Loehr, 1994)

The balance of stress and recovery are other components that affect an athlete. In our terms, stress is something that requires energy, and recovery is something that restores energy. There are three types: physical, mental and emotional. Stress can be running, jumping and moving (physical), focus, problem solving and thinking (mental) or anger, fear, depression and frustration (Emotional). Recovery may be eating, drinking and sleeping (mental), decreasing the concentration and increased imagination and creativity (mental), or relief, positive feelings, fun and self-esteem (emotional). The three types of stress are related. Too much in one area can affect all three. (Hatfield, 2004) This is why a balance is needed between stress and recovery. An athlete has to push himself to grow in all three areas, but also should allow time for adequate recovery.

Upon reaching the area

Upon reaching the area, also known as "flow" is the most rewarding feeling for an athlete. There are several defining characteristics. First, it requires the ability to perform all the skills needed for specific sport simultaneously. Secondly, there must be a merging of action and awareness. Third, the objectives should be clearly defined; which basically means to know the sport and the game plan. Then, the athlete must receive clear of coaches and teammates. You must then have a sense of untreated control. There will be a loss of self-awareness and a loss of consciousness of time. The final result is known as an experience autotelic, a self-contained activity does so simply because the activity itself is the reward. (Cox.1998)

It is in the area that optimal levels of performance can be experienced. If an athlete can achieve and maintain this status may be the perfect game in his hands.

My Personal Journey

For me, the mental aspect of sports has been a roller coaster. Naturally, being a very competitive person, I learned early on that I was destined to be an athlete. In my youth, my extreme competitiveness and aggression was a double-edged sword. Often dirty basketball games and even got into a scuffle few during football matches. My temperament is not angry when the ball was bouncing my way.

Over time I learned to curve my temper, and I found with a sport that fit my personality, football. At first I was not aware of the psychological aspects of sports. During the games, everything seemed equal to me. All I knew is that I would do anything to win. It was the mental preparation aspect that always worried me. After a few seasons, I decided I needed to get a certain mental state before the game to optimize my performance. Just before the court, I think about all the things that irritates me, and I work to a state of rage. At times, this strategy would benefit (when he did it was short-lived), and sometimes going to play out of control.

It was not until my last year of football really began to focus on mental strategies. Before each game, he had to reach the most rewarding mental state: the area. My body feels loose and powerful. I would react without thinking about moving. I had an intense focus on the task at hand. Finally, my emotions would be under control, but about to explode any minute, in other words, a rage.

Through trial and error, I discovered that there were some things I could do to reach the area. The morning of the game, I want to be sure of waking up with a little anger. Throughout the day would lead to a nervous attitude. I would avoid having conversations with people, and would remain relatively low key. As the game approached, slowly focus my thoughts. I would see myself doing my tasks. When we got to the locker room, he would find a quiet corner and listen to music. During warmups change my approach to my body. I made sure that all joints and muscles are prepared as possible for the battle ahead. During the game, my mind, of course, will focus exclusively on the game. I realize my anxiety before the game usually go away after the kickoff. I want to stay focused mainly on my work, but was always aware of game time, down and distance, and what the other team was doing. I remember vividly that I had many altercations with teammates and opposing players, but I could completely lose awareness of external events.

Looking back, I do not recall having heard the crowd, the band or the presenter. During the game it used to be very critical of my performance. Generally speaking only in reference to myself in third person. If I did something good, I shouted "that a child, this is the way play. "I would also yell at myself if I made a mistake. A couple of times I got in trouble with referees to shout obscenities. I also yell at myself if I feel relaxed, or if he felt he was losing focus. After the big parties, I remember having been emotionally exhausted. Sometimes I could not even assemble for prayers for the amount of physical and emotional stress he had suffered. Looking back, I now realize that most of the tension was self-inflicted emotional.

After researching this topic, I have come to realize that he had many weaknesses in my psychological point of view to sports. My main struggle was about dealing with failure. I had always considered myself a mentally tough athlete, but according to the definition, I am not completely resistant. I was never good to forget a mistake. Instead, he got angry, and my level of excitement become so high that sometimes focus on physical damage my opponent, and lose sight of my job. Fortunately, this strategy has worked a couple of times, for I would be physically more imposing than usual, but other Sometimes I get into trouble.

I would also have understood the concept of level of arousal. I always thought the above was launched I the best I have to make. Looking back, I can remember a few instances where my intense focus led to disaster. In a game against our rivals that spans the city, I became very excited after having made a great success. The next play was so focused on stopping running another play that I forgot the receiver covered me, and he caught a ball over my head to the first. If I had expanded my approach would have been an easy stop. In general, I my experience I can relate very closely to the material I have researched. I never thought about the mentality of the game in terms of something that could be studied. However, read-through of the concepts was a very nice experience, and many of my theories were confirmed, and the reason many of my struggles became evident.

The content of this essay describes various aspects of sports psychology. Topics included memory and its relationship with athletic performance, the types and intensity of anxiety anxiety, excitement levels and approach, the benefit of selective attention, the remodeling, the definition of mental strength, balancing stress and recovery, the definition of the components of "the zone", and finally my personal experience with the mental aspects of sports. Like any another field of science, sport psychology is always changing. What may be true today is subject to revision at any time. What is indisputable, however, is the impact that the mental state and emotions can have on an athlete's performance.

Works Cited

Cox, RJ (1998). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. St. Louis: McGraw Hill Hatfield, FC (2004). Gymnasium, the complete guide. Carpenteria, CA, "Federico Txul 157-866 C. Hatfield

Huang, C. & J. Lynch (1992). Thinking Body, Dancing Mind. Bantam Books: New York

Loehr, JE (1994). tenacity Training for Sports New. Dutton Books: New York

About the Author

Cooking in the danger zone – perfect manners – eating soup in Chernobyl against his better judgement – Stefan Gates – BBC

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