In light of this past weekend’s awesome Level 3-5 performances at State and our Level 2s competing at their State Championships this coming weekend, here is a great article on “Getting into the Zone”.
Please share this with your gymnast! We are looking forward to an even more successful weekend with the Level 2s and our Boys’ Team who will also be competing this weekend.
Getting into the Zone!
In order to achieve success, gymnasts need to find a way to feel so confident in their own abilities and that they enter “the zone”. The zone is a well-known temporary performance state that athletes may enter into where they perform instinctively and without conscious thought processes. It allows athletes to perform at their best. The brain thinks about the action and the body performs it exactly as the brain thought about it.
It is difficult to get in the zone in gymnastics because the competition time is so short. In other sports, like football or basketball, the length of the game allows athletes to initially play normally and then get into the zone after a period of time.
First, being in the zone requires a previous mastery of the skills in the routine. A gymnast cannot operate in the zone if they have not done the skills correctly previously.
For gymnasts, the rest depends on control of their focus. Being in the zone means being totally focused only on what you are doing at that very moment. Focus and concentration must be intense enough to blank out all distractions. Distractions may be mental, like worrying about a skill coming up in your routine, thinking about what the coach or someone will think about your routine or being affected by physical distractions like crowd noise or loud music.
Secondly, being in the zone requires a particular type of confidence that does not allow any fear of falling or failure to come into play and not being intimidated by other gymnasts, judges or coaches.
Being in the zone means being so immersed in the skills and routine that a gymnast loses track of time, where they are, and the relative importance of the meet.
You can improve your chances of getting into the zone by practicing your focus and concentration and attempting to get in the zone in practice. All of the elements including focus, being in the present moment, complete concentration on the skills and routine can allow a gymnast to increase their odds of getting in the zone and therefore of getting into the zone in meets.
Here are some steps for increasing your chances of getting in the zone.
1. Focus only on one skill at a time and don’t think forward or backward in the routine.
2. Focus on metal and verbal (silent self-talk) cues.
3. Avoid focus on any distractions.
4. Avoid focus on worry that you won’t perform correctly.
5. Focus on all skills or shapes as you want them to be.
6. Be confident. Act confident, aggressive and decisive and avoid feelings of fear.
7. Commit completely to performing all skills, with no hesitation.
8. Be completely in the moment.
9. Control the pace of your thinking processes to exactly match the pace of the routine.
10. When doing floor, allow the music to control the movement of your body.
11. On the other events, control the pace of your thoughts and body to the natural rhythm of the skills.
12. Allow no other thoughts between the thought of the skill you are dong and doing that skill.
13. Allow yourself no thoughts about what kind of scores or criticism or praise that you will receive after the routine.
14. Practice! Practice with distractions and train yourself to force them from your mind.
It is important to not try to force yourself into the zone. Being in the zone means doing without trying. If you try to force it, you are likely to end up performing poorly. If you get into the process of what you’re doing, and let the results take care of themselves, then you have an excellent chance of getting into the zone.
And being in the zone can allow you that rare but wonderful feeling of performing perfectly if only for one tumbling pass or one vault. Good luck on entering the gymnastics zone.