Q: Shannon, almost every athlete wants to learn how to get into the zone more often. Many of the athletes who come to see me for counseling ask about how they can best do this. How would you describe the zone?
A: The zone is the place you enter where everything else disappears. If there are television cameras or a million people watching you, it does not matter. For some people, entering the zone is innate. For others it is learned. For me, it was a combination of both.
Q: Managing injuries is an issue for many gymnasts and for many athletes. How did you learn to perform when you were not feeling well?
A: No athlete is healthy 100 percent of the time. I learned that working through a sickness or injury, being able to truly focus on the competition at hand was an extremely important skill. At the Olympics in 1996, I was battling a severe wrist injury. Not only was I having to learn how to train and compete with the pain but also understanding the importance of doing "smart" gymnastics.
Q: Were you born mentally tough?
A: I'm not really sure. I know that I was not the strongest, most flexible or most naturally talented athlete. I knew that I had to find another route to success. For me it was hard work. I was a work horse. I also found that being mentally tough; not allowing others to derail you or get into your head made me a fierce competitor."
Q: Do you have three tips for athletes who are trying to excel at their sport?
A: Set long and short term goals. Don't limit what you can accomplish and don't let others limit you in any way. Keep believing in yourself every day.
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Dr. Jay Granat, a psychotherapist and sports psychologist, is co-author of "Who Will Win the Big Game? A Psychological & Mathematical Approach" with Carlton Chin, CFA, an MIT-trained "quant" and fund manager. Granat is founder of StayInTheZone.com and Chin is chief investment officer of CARAT / Adamah Capital.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Co-Author of "Who Will Win" interviews Shannon Miller
One of the authors, Dr. Jay Granat, of "Who Will Win the Big Game?" had a chance to sit down with Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time All-Around World Champion gymnast Shannon Miller to discuss mental toughness, getting into "the zone," and what it takes to be a winner.