The Toxic Three of Poor Performance: Zone Blockers (Symptoms and Anxieties)

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The Toxic Three:

1. Self-criticism (negative self-talk; analyzing and agonizing).

2. Why-ning (negative focus on past poor performances and outcomes). “Why did I do that?

3. What-ifing (negative focus on future poor performances and outcomes). “What if I fail?”

I have been working as a peak performance specialist with student-athletes at the elementary school, high school, and college level for more than 20 years.  I’ve also done extensive training with professional athletes over this period of time.  Whether it’s a little league baseball shortstop, a high school field hockey player, a college swimmer, or any athlete from any walk of life; I have been routinely peppered with toxic questions and negative expectations from student-athletes.

I have discovered that the most common questions are variations of “What-If I fail?” and “Why did I play that way?”  The most common self-assessments are: “I am the worst,” “I’ll never make it,” “I can’t believe I choked,” and so on.  All of these questions are symptoms of anxiety that are born of the ultimate concern, “Where did my zone go?”