Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reader Participation Day 1, Part 2


So, last week on Friday I requested that readers send in answers to a question so they could discuss, and then I could post a couple and talk about them.

I've included two of those responses below (the only ones, actually ;P), and I'll share some thoughts on them as well.

The question, as you may recall, was "What is your number one technique for getting in 'The Zone'?"

First response came from Unknown, who says that quite simply, there is no better tool for getting in the zone then warming up:

"Warm up. Do some practice at the beginning of the tournament. In Melee, that's obvious, but in other games, it's not as clear. Even a little warm up just helps you get comfortable...

...It's just a shortcut to get yourself in the right mindset of playing, and that's one of the biggest parts of playing well."

So this is pretty clear.  If you want to be in the zone, get your body and mind ready for it.  Get yourself in the mode of thinking and acting with regards to your game.  You don't want to overexert and tire yourself out before the competition, so having a tested routine in advance that hits the sweetspot is invaluable.

This goes along with something that I tested out this weekend in tournament, which is the principle of small victories.  Use small, easily achievable goals throughout the day to build mental momentum.  In a sense, you warm up your brain and emotions and give yourself a "success habit."

If that sounds stupid, consider this: we all have days where every little thing seems to go wrong.  Nothing big, nothing that would ruin a day on its own.  But your hot water heater decides to fritz so you get repeatedly blasted with shocks of cold water as you shower.  The last apple in your fridge is gross and brown and you spit half of it out.  You spill coffee on yourself.  You have to get a parking space far away.  You leave important notes at home.  It's one hundred percent understandable to feel pretty crummy at this point, and it would take something big and super cool to really snap you into a happy mood.

The flip is true; you wake up and have a comfy shower, a delicious breakfast, and your coffee is perfect.  You get to school or your office, and you get a spot near the door.  It turns out you didn't remember you'd need a book or batch of papers, but you packed them anyhow and feel blessed with great fortune.  Everything seems to be going your way.  Something little comes up, something stupid, and you brush it off.  Your day is going too well to let something dumb ruin it.

Sound familiar?  It works with competition as well.  You can take your warm-up to a new level, and set up your day so you have tons of "little wins" as you go.  Get pointlessly excited and positive about basic stuff, treat them all as omens.  Give yourself doses of positive placebo at every turn, and you'll be in such a good mood that minor mistakes can't distract you.

And of course, there's the warm-up where you work through the skills you've honed, acting as a confidence booster and a way to prime your mental pump.

Our second answer came from the famous Anonymous, who said:

"What I do when I face a new player is I try to imagine them as a cpu, now of course I'm well aware that this "cpu" is much smarter, and can react to anything that I do, but it helps alot in the thinking process (well for me) as to what to do, so I play the match as if I was traning, or simply put, it makes me confident that I can beat him, there's also no fear of the unknown when you have this kind of mindset."

That's a pretty cool attitude to have.  There are lots of players who create "auras" of fear and nervousness in their opponents; the other guy gets SO excited or nervous about beating the giant that they drop important opportunities and openings.  Those kind of gimmes happen more often than they should, because stress and expectations screw and enhance your performance, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.  Telling yourself that your opponent is just as exploitable as an AI, or is just as human as anybody else, can do the trick.  Just make sure you don't deviate from reality so much that you aren't paying attention to what's actually happening.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoyed your holidays, and I'll see you on Friday!

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