What's Normal When You're Not 'in the Zone?'
If you can't completely clear your head during a game, that's okay. Thoughts will cross your mind periodically, just like they do during everyday activities. You may be hypersensitive on game days, looking out for (and sometimes creating storylines about) things that will cause you problems. Or you may have been taught that having thoughts of any kind when you play is a bad thing - that you need to be 'in the zone' all the time.
When you're practicing or working out you have thoughts about what you'll do afterward or briefly mess around with your buddies before dialing it back in. Thoughts crossing your mind on game day doesn't need to be a death-sentence for doing your best. Ask yourself:
When I'm thinking about other things during practice/training, how do I get my attention back onto what I'm doing?
Is it possible to do this or something like it during my next game?
Sometimes the same thing will cross your mind repeatedly. Ask yourself:
Is this on my mind for a purpose or did it just come up?
Is this something I need to deal with right now or can I let it go until later?'
Then, you may choose to enact the same strategy you use at practice to dial back in to the drill. Be patient with yourself, too. If something is on your mind repeatedly, there's always the possibility it will rise to the surface again. Treat each distracted instance with equivolent patience and calm - the more you fixate on that thought as a problem, the more it may cross your mind and feel like an issue.
If you're looking for more tips on mental skills training, check out other articles in the blog.
When you're ready to begin mental skills training, reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org