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THE COMFORT ZONE

THE COMFORT ZONE

The Comfort Zone is a psychological or mental state, according to which the person feels familiar in a given environment and manages it comfortably, with low levels of stress and intensity.

The person avoids difficulties and uses a limited set of behaviors that provide a consistent level of performance, usually without feeling any risk but thus ruling out a real improvement in performance.

As early as 1907, R. Yerkes and J. Dodson were the first to investigate the effects of stress on performance in their groundbreaking 1907 mouse experiment, in which they found that stress improved performance until an optimal level of arousal was achieved. The result of the experiment led the researchers to conclude that increasing stress enhances performance and that excessive stress reduces performance. In each case the subject moves away from his own Comfort Zone.

Exiting the Comfort Zone seems to increase stress and stressful reactions.

This probably results in an increased level of concentration and focus. Alasdair White (2009) refers to the “Optimal Performance Zone”, where performance can be enhanced under pressure. Robert Yerkes in the 1907 experiment stated that stress improves performance until an optimal level of arousal is achieved.

Beyond the optimal performance zone, there is the “Risk Zone”, in which the performance decreases rapidly under the influence of greater stress. Stress is thought to have a negative effect on decision making, as fewer alternatives are used and familiar strategies are implemented, even if they are no longer useful.

From this point of view, optimal performance management requires maximizing the time spent in the Optimal Performance Zone.

In sports, the differentiation of athletes into athletes of high level and lower, among other factors that are of course related to coaching and their environment, is the athlete’s ability to leave his own Comfort Zone.

This is perhaps one of the most important factors in order to be able to successfully execute difficult exercises and / or to complete training volumes and intensity on the process of energy production to the desired level and to bring about real changes in the way the metabolism works.

The stronger the mental acceptance of the need to exit the Comfort Zone, the greater the athlete’s ability to increase the Optimal Performance Zone and thus eliminate the Danger Zone, thus achieving the improvement needed to maximize of his athletic performance.