Have you ever noticed an accomplished sports person prior to their competition? Not necessarily a professional, sometimes amateurs convey that same enviable air of quiet determination and poise. Whilst warming up, such competitors remain within their own calm bubble; others step aside to let them pass, they’re the ones watching everything around them and concentrating more on others than themselves. They can easily get into the zone. I remember watching a friend compete in a one-day event and warming up, Oliver Townend was also in the collecting ring. When I mentioned this to my friend later, she said she hadn’t seen him! There were only three people in this small ring, how could she not have noticed?! Because she was in the zone, her mind was in deep concentration to ready herself and her horse perfectly for the show-jumping.
Having a quiet mind that allows us to be centred and direct our attention to the task at hand. It stills us, slows the breathing and relaxes overly tense muscles, a state of being that would create a peaceful calm in both body and mind. This enables us to be at our best, whatever we’re doing or striving for.
Here’s the technique for getting into the zone, it’s simple and fast.
- Pick a spot above your eye line in front of you. Keep focussing on that spot, taking in all the colours, textures, light/shadow and really focussing in. Keep going for about 20 seconds.
- Now allow your vision to extend slightly, so that you are looking at the spot and about 30cm either side, slowly take your vision out a little more and more until you can’t focus on the spot, but you can see your hands if you stretch your arms out level with your shoulders.
- Now stretch your vision even wider. Stretch your awareness in your imagination to as far around you as you can. Now you’re in peripheral vision.
If you start to think about anything else, including fears or other negative thoughts, you will probably drop out of peripheral vision; your eyes focus as you consider such thoughts or feelings. Try it!
Now, take your time and bring your vision back to peripheral. You’ll start to relax a little more and push those negative thoughts away. Your mind cannot hold peripheral vision and negativity at the same time. Each time you start to feel those unhelpful thoughts, quickly go into peripheral vision to dispel them. As you become adept, you’ll be able to use it in the very first flurry of doubts or nerves, then, unconsciously, you’ll do it before they even surface. And you’ll be getting into the zone! Practise often to become accustomed to using the technique!
Previous clients have noticed how useful this technique is in sport:
- Dressage and flatwork – you can get a really good perspective of the arena and anticipate movements with more time and more accuracy
- Show-jumping and cross-country – having a broader vision allows you to see the next jump and possibly the next, your lines become more exact, turns more effective
- Polo – have greater awareness of the field, your team mates and opposition riders, see the play unfolding more quickly
- Hacking and trail riding – use as a calming aid to calm to rider and the horse; enjoy the views, don’t focus on the horse’s ears/head or the obstacle you don’t want to pass. Connect with the horse more.
- Rugby, cricket, football, tennis – having peripheral vision gives you greater awareness of play and vital milliseconds to react
Let me know how you get on, it’s great to hear your successes!
You may also like to find out more about how to establish a confident, winning mindset. Click 11 Powerful mindset tools used by champions- the mindset for riding success to find out more.