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New Research Shows How 160 Top Athletes Build Self Confidence, Focus And Stay In The Zone

April 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 353

How do world class athletes get themselves ready to perform their best when the pressure is really on?

What are some of the strategies, tools and techniques they use to tune out distractions, stay focused and remain self-confident when faced with a serious challenge?

My team of researchers and I recently interviewed approximately one hundred and sixty elite athletes from a wide range of individual sports and team sports including: golf, tennis, mixed martial arts, wrestling, track and field, football, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse, diving, hockey, baseball, figure skating, boxing, basketball and judo.

The people we spoke to compete at the professional level, the Olympic level, the college level and the high school level.

We asked them about choking during competition, managing pressure and the strategies and techniques they used to perform to their fullest potential. Several themes and patterns seem to be mentioned very frequently.

First, for many athletes, the zone is synonymous with the idea of focus. Focus can be thought of as relaxed concentration where you are absorbed in the task and living in the present.

Second, a lot of the athletes reported listening to music prior to a game, match or performance. Many had very specific songs which seem to "psych" them up to compete.

Third, a lot of the athletes visualization, guided imagery, meditation or guided imagery to get their mind into the right gear for winning. Many would imagine a perfect performance in great and vivid detail.

Fourth, relationships with teammates and coaches were a key component to their athletic success. The great athletes seem to have outstanding relationships with the key people in their lives. Conflicted relationships can create much stress on and off the field for the serious athlete.

Fifth, many athletes reported using the same routines and rituals in their training for many years.

Sixth, passion for their sport keeps them motivated and excited.

Seventh, having fun is paramount. When an athlete is no longer having fun, he or she may be suffering from burn out. It is very hard for an athlete to perform his or her best when one's sport is not appealing or fun.

Eighth, a great performance can be thought of as a function of hard work and talent minus distractions.

Ninth, choking is the opposite of being in the zone. When an athlete chokes he or she is distracted and they lose focus. Knowing how to manage choking and setbacks are essential skills for peak performers. The athletes we spoke to learn how to activate their inner warriors when they need to get mentally tougher when faced with an athletic challenge.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers.

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Sports Psychology


Sport Psychology


Confidence In Sports


Psychology And Athletes


Mental Toughness

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