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Sparring>Attitude>Get into the zone

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Get into the zone

Intro

All serious athletes have had moments in their sports when they were "in the zone." These are the moments when they don’t think about what to do, they just do it. If you want to excel at sparring, you should train until you are "in the zone" regularly.

Training for the zone

When training for sparring competition, students must work on three skills to enhance their performance:
  • Physical skills. You train to increase your strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance.
  • Sparring skills. You spar as much as possible to become a better all-around fighter.
  • Psychological skills. The most important psychological skill is focus. If your internal focus is on negative thoughts, thinking about the future, or on fear, it will create anxiety and a lack of confidence that will interfere with your performance during a competition. Instead, you need to focus on perfecting your sparring skills at the moment with confidence and determination. Then when you are in the ring, you can focus on the task at hand and not on yourself or your ego. You become detached from the outcome and just perform as you have trained.
Martial artists tend to enjoy activities the most that help to improve their performance. The more relevant they find a task, the greater emphasis they placed on concentration.

Being detached from the outcome and just going with the flow is called "being in the zone." To get into the zone and achieve flow, a task must be challenging but the athlete needs the level of skill to meet the challenge. It does not matter the skill level of the athlete if the challenge and level of skill are in balance.

During flow, action and awareness merge so that the body and mind function as one. To achieve flow, the athlete needs clear goals, unambiguous feedback, concentration on the task at hand, and a sense of control over the event. The experience of flow involves the loss of self-consciousness and the transformation of time. Flow is intrinsically rewarding in that when it is achieved, it brings a good feeling that one wants to achieve again.

Things to concentrate upon

To achieve flow in sparring competition, you should concentrate upon:
  • During pre-competition
  • Unique person/situation experiences.
  • Visualization.
  • Mental skills training.
  • Confidence as a positive expectancy.
  • Development of physical skills
  • During competition
  • Transitions into and out of peak moments.
  • Experience of altered states.
  • Intense focus.
  • Relaxation.
  • Applying mental skills.
  • Experiencing confidence as power.
  • During post-competition
  • Reflections on experience.
  • Assessing performance.
  • Assessing and improving physical and mental skills.
  • Growth in confidence.
Achieving flow is a dynamic process that involves transitions in and out of flow as well as growth over time. You can’t just will flow to occur, you can only train for it and then go with it when it occurs.

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