Saturday, June 4, 2011

In the Zone

As a former athlete, and a parent of athletes I understand the concept of being in the "Zone".  The Zone of Optimal Functioning in sports psychology synthesizes that an athlete will perform best within a zone of optimal arousal.  This zone applies to multiple psychological variables including cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety.  The cognitive anxiety refers to the negative expectations and the mental worries about ones performance in a competitive situation.  Somatic anxiety deals with self-perception of physiological arousal which involves nervousness and tension.  I have watched my children perform in high level competitions, and you can tell when they are in the "Zone", the  moment when everything comes together and they achieve their best performance.  It is like a release of a positive energy.  My daughter would prepare herself by focusing and putting on her game face before race, you knew she was focused and ready for the competition.  My son, a pitcher, prepares himself quite differently.  He acts like it is just another ordinary moment in life, even when he is on the mound, he seems very loose.  Both of my children are competitors, but they operate and function in different zones.  My daughter allows the  tension to build and then a quick release, and my son seems to go with the flow with less tension and anxiety.  This could be due to the nature of the events, where my daughter was a short distant sprinter in swimming, and the event required a burst of energy.  Where as a pitcher needs to remain more constant and composed. 
The "Zone" does not just apply to athletics, but it can be seen in other life events.  If a musical performance is required the musician wants to be in their "Zone". I think in any life situation where one is required to perform some type of task where they will be judged by others there is a level of optimal performance that we want to achieve, and to achieve that optimal performance, one needs to be in their "Zone". 
Here is a short video of world premier golfer talking about when he knew he was in his "Zone", everything came together for him on that day in that moment.


  1. Lauren I know what you mean. Out of my 4 children, 3 are athletics. My sons who are accomplished swimmers, would either watch the Gladiator or Cinderella Man to get in "the zone". Michael Phelps listens to music on his ipod to get in "the zone". I think you are right that in any life situation where one is required to perform some type of task where they will be judged by others or themselves, and to achieve that optimal performance, one needs to be in their "zone". Mine time would definitely be Thanksgiving.
    I cook for approximately 20 to 30 people, and I pump myself up looking at recipes, seating charts, and decorating ideas to get in "the zone". It is not a sprint like your daughter but a marathon. Just call me "Marathon Mom".

  2. Marathon Mom, you are great! I agree as moms we need to be in the zone to accomplish all that we do from doing the mundane household chores to pursuing our higher education goals to preparing Thanksgiving dinner for our families. It feels wonderful when you are operating in the zone. I saw one life coach on youtube talk about being in the flow which is comparable to being in the zone. People who live in the flow are usually happier people. Living in the flow is being in a place where you challenged enough to make life interesting, but not to a point where you are overwhelmed and stressed out. Thanks for sharing Marathon Mom, otherwise known as Robin:)