FREESTYLE SPORT PSYCHOLOGY 101 - THE ZONE

We've all been in the zone at one time or another. When you're in the zone you don't doubt yourself, you're focused and you just play. The disc, or ball, seems bigger and time seems slower. You play at the highest level you're capable of when you're in the zone. You are truly living in the moment. If I were to ask you later what moves you did, you probably couldn't remember.

When you are in the zone you are using you natural ability and you're allowing things to happen rather than trying to control them by thinking about it too much. You're allowing yourself to play well instead letting your thoughts your doubts and insecurities get in the way of that. A lot of nerves can get in your way if you let them. Though nerves can be good if channeled the right way.

The difficult thing about the zone is you never really know when you're going to get there. To play well in competition I don't think you need to be in the zone but it sure helps. It's like icing on the cake. When you are in that mindset the judgmental side of your brain is on vacation, thus allowing you to perform at your best. I suggest practicing that non-judgmental mindset.

"Think about what you're doing instead of how you're doing." Think about what you want to do each moment. Focus on the frisbee, the conditions, the moves, where you want "the set" to be so you can nail the catch or move, on getting your partner good throws. Don't spend much time thinking about whether the routine is going well or not, or whether you're playing well or not. By not judging your performance and just concentrating on what's happening and what you need to do at that very moment you're more likely to play better. And you might end up in the zone and really playing at the top of your game.

Doubt is the little bug that can creep into your mind and hurt your performance. Obviously we all have doubt and fear creep in to a certain extent. It's not bad having it. The key is to manage it. For example, if in the finals and you're going for a particular spinning catch and thinking about the possibility that you might drop it, you just increased the chance of dropping it tenfold. If, however,

you just calmly focus on smoothly setting the disc at just the right height so that the frisbee will end up in the just the spot for the catch then you'll probably nail it. Now let's say you don't catch it. (This is actually even more important.) Don't care! It doesn't matter! Be aware that you dropped the disc but don't get down on yourself about it. Just focus on the next thing you need to do. Keep plugging away. Stay in the moment. So just pick up the disc, relax, and throw your partner a great throw and move on to the next Co-op or combo. Think about you're next move with all the confidence you had before. If you don't judge the mistake or drop, if you don't get mad at yourself, it won't slow your momentum. If you think to yourself, "No problem" you increase your odds of catching the next one and hitting the next combo. By having the mental discipline to try and stay in the moment, eventually you will actually be in the moment and in the zone.

Dave Lewis