How to Get in the Zone

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

One thing I've learned as a coach is that many top athletes establish routines as part of helping themselves get in "The Zone."

Every time I step into the batter's box, even now in non-competitive situations, I always go in with the same routine.

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Half Cuts

I step in with the same foot first every time. I always take my practice "half cuts" no matter how quickly the pitcher likes to make her delivery after I get in the box. In college, before hitting the field, I ate Cheerios and Power Bars, and if I could get a hold of M&Ms on game day, I'd only eat the green ones, and maybe the brown ones.

Doing all of those little things, following the routines I established, helped me feel comfortable and in control going into competition. I felt like everything was in harmony. Going through those routines calmed me down, took away anxiety. When you are calm and anxiety-free it's easier to be confident.

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The Power of Confidence

Playing with confidence, of course, greatly affects your performance in a positive way. It's often the difference between success and failure. For players in "The Zone" everything just feels right. Hitting the ball and making plays feels simple and stress-less.

So, was I superstitious? I still like to think that I'm not. I simply practiced a technique that many athletes are taught today. I established routines that helped me feel confident, that helped me get into the right frame of mind to perform my best. These routines helped me get closer to being in "The Zone."

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Developing Your Own Routine

Do you have any routines you go through? Are there things you do that you know calm you down and make you feel balanced? Make you feel confident? These things are important, don't change them unless you find something else that makes you more comfortable and confident.

If you don't have any routine and you sort of just fly by the seat of your pants, maybe it's time to establish just one small routine that you do before each game, or before each at bat, or before each pitch on defense.

Something that lets your mind and body know it's time to be calm, you're in control, you're ready for whatever happens next, and you can handle anything that comes your way. You don't need to go overboard, just start small and see what works for you. Have fun with it, enjoy the game, and get in "The Zone."

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About the Author

Stacie Mahoe

Stacie Mahoe has been involved in the game of softball since the age of nine. She is the founder of and the director of softball operations at Her perspectives on the game as a former player, current coach, and current softball parent provide unique insight on various softball issues.

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