CHAPTER 7: STATE OF MIND GETTING IN THE ZONE "My creative mind is my greatest weapon.

It is a kind of inner vision that enables me to see things that others might not, like a certain way to play a shot. The psychology of golf can be complicated as it does entail mental toughness, self-confidence, conquering inner demons, instant recall of past successes and being able to purge failures. It is the game within the game, I developed my mental strength early and I cannot emphasise the importance of you developing yours now!" Tiger Woods

The mental aspects prior to performance should involve focusing on what you are going to do during the event Competition can bring out the best or the worst in athletes, and the psychological demands are especially high when individuals or teams are striving to achieve the same goals. When physical skills are evenly matched, it is often the competitor with the stronger mental approach, who can control his or her mind before and during events, who wins. However, many athletes wrongly assume that mental aspects of performance are innate and unchangeable when, in reality, systematic mental training can have a similar impact on performance as physical workouts. Getting into the correct mind-set prior to competition is one of the most crucial aspects of top performance.

There are many other potential distractions for the sports person, including the actions of friends or family, coaches or team mates, the environmental conditions, memories, delays and irrelevant thoughts. All of these can detract from your preparations, so be ready to clear your mind and refocus as necessary.

Because sports people have varying requirements, it is impossible to standardize the precompetition preparation. However, you may wish to adopt the anchoring strategy in creating your own pre-performance strategy to achieve the desired emotional state Golfers have routines that allow them to prepare in the same way for each shot, as do some rugby place kickers, and tennis players before serving. The key to any routine is that it provides the athlete with control and directs attention to the important cues. Coaches and athletes should work together in deciding the key attention cues and the sequence in which these should occur.

A classic example of how emotions can affect sport performers came in a famous boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran. Leonard was considered the better boxer who was expected to outclass Duran with slick movements and long-range punching. However, before the fight Duran insulted Leonard in front of his family and this, to the dismay of Leonard’s Trainer Angelo Dundee, sent Leonard into a rage, which completely altered the course of subsequent events. Instead of fighting to the pre-planned strategy devised with his trainer, Leonard let his emotions take over and decided he was going to ‘beat-up’ his opponent. Duran’s actions amounted to a psychological masterstroke as Leonard ditched his boxing skills and opted for a brawl. It was exactly what Duran had hoped for, and he won a points decision

The best performers in the world have the ability to get into the right state of mind in specific situations particularly in certain situations were two competitors are equal physically, technically, and tactical understanding of the game, the ability that certain performers have to achieve consistent results over long periods of time has allot to do with them being able to get in the right mental state in a specific situation What goes through the mind of a performer that is just about to take a penalty kick to win a world cup final in a penalty shoot out A tennis player who is about to serve for a match of a major tournament

In most sports there is a break of play in between In a game of football which lasts 90 minutes the average amount of ball contact per player is 3 minutes, when we take time out for the ball being out of play I.e. a golfer who is out on the course all day playing up to 18 holes actual ball contact is around 14 minutes Each stroke taking seconds

In a game of cricket a batter has a split second to make a decision on shot selection in between

A formula car driver

Marathon runner

When Nomar Garciaparra refastens his batting gloves between every pitch, is it a preperformance routine or a superstition? What about when Dirk Nowitzki sings David Hasselhoff tunes before he shoots free throws

An NLP strategy which can be used to get performers into the right state of mind is Anchoring

What is Anchoring?
An anchor is a stimulus that creates a response in either you or in another person. When an individual is at the peak of an experience during an intense emotional state, an applied specific stimulus can establish a neurological link between the emotional state and the stimulus. Anchoring can occur naturally or be set up intentionally and can assist in gaining access to past states and linking the past state to the present and future. Anchors can be used by both coaches and players to produce a state of mind or mood needed for a given situation

NLP examples of Anchoring in every day life
Here are a few examples: flicking through an old family photo album stirs pleasant memories and some of the feelings associated with them. An old song which can take you back to a specific event.
 The smell of freshly baked apple pies brings back memories of a happy care-free


How we Anchor and are anchored
When we are with another person who experiences some strong emotion, whatever we are doing or saying becomes associated with that emotion. Usually this process occurs at the unconscious level. Subsequently, whenever we do or say the same thing in the same way in his presence we will tend to re-stimulate for him/her some portion of the previous feeling.

Being aware of this phenomenon through knowledge of neurolinguistic programming enables us to be aware of the kinds of responses we are anchoring in others, how we are doing it and conversely, what kinds of responses are being anchored in ourselves and how. This awareness enables us to anchor for mutually productive outcomes.

Anchoring in Sport
Can be used to create a resourceful state of mind for a specific situation to achieve a desired result For example prior to a rugby player taking a kick for goal A golf player teeing off A cricket player getting ready to face the next ball A football player taking a penalty The list is exhaustive The anchor can be used to create different state of mind Confidence Motivation Focus Relaxation

I was working with a leading striker from a leading premiership club who had been injured for 3 seasons; I had used the anchoring strategy by using idea technology. What we did was get as much video footage of the player performing to the best of his ability, as the players position in the team was to score goals, and this was one of the outcomes he was aiming to achieve as a player, we transferred on to the DVD as many goals as possible, and there were quite a few. We then attached same of the players favourite music to the DVD, initially I had asked the player to take the DVD and watch it as and when he wanted to, just enjoy watching himself playing well, I said the fact he had performed like this before it was possible to perform like this again it was a question of getting him in the same state of mind. I then asked the player that in order to transfer this resource in a game situation we needed to develop an anchor, so just like a light switch we could, switch that state of mind on when necessary, the player decided what he wanted to use as his anchor, whilst watching the DVD we went through the anchoring process 100s of times until the player knew for certain that the anchor produced the emotional stimulus required for him to perform in specific situations we had outlined

The result was in the player’s first game he had scored 2 goals after being out with injury for over 3 seasons Another example o the anchoring process was some work I did with a football player at a lower division club, in this situation I did not have access to video footage of he player, so we did the process by getting the player to reflect of some of his past performances. in this situation the player was going through a situation were he was lacking in confidence, when ever he walked on to the football pitch he didn’t believe in himself, this player also being a striker whose job it is to score goals was doing well in training, he had no problem scoring goals in training, though when he walked on to the football pitch he couldn’t seem to score goals. The reasons behind this could have been countless, and I thought that isn’t wasn’t necessary to find out why, rather than analyse the problem lets look for a solution. In this situation the player was going through a problem were he was lacking confidence whilst he was playing a competitive game, which was affecting his performances. We went through the anchoring process I had asked him to set down and write down some of his best performances then having done that reflect and think about it, having done this you could see an immediate physiological change, the player sat up straight his breathing changed and almost in an instant was in a different mind set We decided on an anchor which was a flick of his wrist band And asked him to visualise again his best performances When he reached peak intensity I had asked him to flick his wrist band as this would build an association to the confidence he wanted to resource whilst playing, every time he wanted to tap I to that resource he would flick his wrist band The player performed the technique and practiced whilst on his own And the first thing he does when he walks on to the pitch now is flick the wrist band

Installing an Anchor 1Decide on the state you want to anchor - e.g. being calm and relaxed, confident, motivated etc; 2Choose an anchor (or anchors) that you wish to trigger that state - e.g. press thumb and middle finger together; 3Recall a memory or imagine a situation where you can experience that state e.g. recall a situation where you were totally calm, relaxed, confident etc; 4When the experience is vivid and you are in the desired state at the peak of its intensity, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together; 5Release the anchors when the experience begins to fade; 6Now do something else - open your eyes, count down from 10 to break the state and distract yourself 7Repeat the steps above several times, each time trying to make the memory more vivid (not required when the anchor is established at the high point of a real experience, but you can strengthen the anchor by establishing it at the high point of several such experiences);

8Apply the anchor and check that the required state occurs; Apply the required anchor during the halftime interval to generate the appropriate emotional state

'Although you can train your body physically by sheer persistence, it's much harder to train your mind….all this visualisation did not come to me in a flash, I had to work at it, and learn how to use it.' Sally Gunnell