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Playing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Playing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

We received the following question from an athlete:

“What do you think happens when you have the upper hand and still lose the game, and you know you are beating yourself?”

Many athletes don’t perform their best when they have a big lead because they play within their comfort zone. What is a comfort zone? A comfort zone based on how you expect to perform. Comfort zones are challenging when you are playing better than expected.

What do you think is happening with my mental focus?”

When performing inside your comfort zone you will likely play tentatively to avoid making mistakes and protect your lead. It’s really not a problem with your focus directly. When you try to avoid making mistakes or protect your lead, you play more defensively, which can cause you to play too safe. You sit on your lead when out of your comfort zone.

Top 4 signs that you’re playing within a comfort zone

  1. You’re nervous, anxious, or afraid when playing better than expected.
  2. You lose confidence when playing better than expected.
  3. You protect your lead and play defensively or are afraid to risk.
  4. You focus on not making mistakes rather than focusing on winning points.

How can you play beyond your comfort zone?

First, you should stop thinking about the score and how much you are ahead during competition. When you think about the score, you lose focus on the present task. Try to think of each play as the first play. That way, you will play with the same intensity no matter if you are up or down in the game.

Additionally, leaving your expectations at home and instead focusing on how to execute with greater focus will help you leave your comfort zone. You also can set positive goals to challenge yourself when you have a big lead. That way, you will avoid playing defensively and continue playing aggressively. Your aggressive play will help you keep momentum on your side and finish the game strong.

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