Much is made of athletes "getting in the zone." A sports announcer might explain that a basketball player is in the zone when he sinks a three-point shot, or an athlete might attribute a recent loss to not being able to get in the zone. Unfortunately, the zone is a completely subjective phenomenon. Whether you need to get in the zone for an upcoming sports event or you want to apply the zone-like principles to other aspects of your life, you should know that the zone has a variety of aspects that different athletes use in different ways to become more proficient.
Define your purposes for winning. A proficient athlete knows whether she's in the game for the love of her family, for fame, for money or for the love of the sport. Understanding why you want to win can give you an end goal and motivational visualizations that help you play harder. Knowing why you play the game offers greater incentive to win.
Assess your previous performance through films, replays and other materials. Even if you didn't perform to the best of your abilities, knowing your weaknesses and understanding where you can improve can help you get in the zone for the next event. Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson tells "Time" magazine that to get into the zone, he works to understand why he performed a certain way, makes peace with his last performance and moves on to the next one.
Train your mind as well as your body. Knowing how to calm your nerves and focus solely on the game can help you overcome your doubts in order to play at the best of your abilities. Some athletes engage in self talk and affirmations in order to get ready for a big game. When you find something that calms you, make it into a pregame ritual so it's easier to calm yourself in order to play at your best.
Engage in relaxing techniques that allow you to clear your mind before a game or event. Overworking your brain can lead to poor performance just as overworking muscles can. When you over-think the game, your strategy and your skill, you take away from your natural talents and the muscle memory used to play the game. Meditate, play a video game or listen to music; do whatever helps to relax you and get in the zone before a game.
Fuel and hydrate your body properly. When attempting to get in the zone, if you don't feel your best, you could be more concerned with your hunger and thirst symptoms rather than being the best athlete that you can be. Drink at least 1 to 2 cups of water or sports drink before a game and at least 1 cup for every 15 minutes of game play. Have a light, protein-packed snack before you play to ensure that you have the energy to be at your best.