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An interview with Renzie Hanham
With a wealth of experience in the world of performance pyschology, Renzie Hanham has worked with a variety of athletes from sports as far ranging as rugby to croquet and multi-endurance. I was fortunate enough to interview Renzie and ask him some questions about his famous Blue and Red zones among other things.
KT: You talk a lot about performance under pressure Renzie, what causes pressure?
RH: “Three main things, expectation, scrutiny and consequences. Most sportsmen will have a favourite i.e. one of these will get to you most.”
KT: How do people respond when they are under pressure?
“In different ways - some will get aggressive, some become passive and some will shut down and want to escape and get out of it altogether. This is quite common, especially in teams.
KT: What are some of the things you can’t control in a sporting situation?
RH: “There are plenty of things out of your control, the weather and ground conditions, the crowd, the opposition, your team mates, refereeing decisions etc. When your attention goes to the things you can’t control you become a victim. I call this being in the red zone. By the way, assume it is the ‘job’ of the crowd, the opposition, even your own team members or the referee to divert you and take you off task.
KT: So is there a colour or a zone you are in when you are focused on what you can control?
RH: “Yes that is the blue zone. You feel calm, in control and ‘on task’. You don’t ‘see red’ like you do in the red zone.”
The take-home message: “Learn to recognise when you are in the red zone or in the blue zone.”
Why is being in the blue zone so critical?
In this zone you can have C.I.A.
· C stands for Clarity
· I stands for Intensity and
· A stands for Accuracy
If you have all these things going on you will be optimising your performance, no question.
KT: You talk about “crap magnets”. What are these?
RH: These are the negative thoughts you have about yourself, the game or your performance. These are things like: “They’re much bigger than us,” or “I don’t think we can win,” or “We’re getting thrashed,” or “ I’m not fit enough,” or “We have an injury,” and other things not even related to the game! One crap magnet attracts another and then another and when you get enough of them you seriously doubt yourself, and when that happens it becomes reality.
KT: So how do you deal with crap magnets? Is it even possible to control your thoughts?
RH: Not at all. You don’t even know what you are going to think next so how can you control them? What you can do is control how you REACT to them or deal with them.
KT: Can you give me an example?
RH: Let’s say you messed up a pass that would have resulted in a certain try at an important time in the match. You get down on yourself and replay the way you messed up and how painful it was. The way you remember it is on a giant video screen – big and up close and in colour. So every time you think about it it is so real you re traumatise yourself!
KT: Is there anything you can do about this larger than life video playing over and over in your mind?
RH: Yes you need to play the video again but make it smaller, in black and white, turn the sound down and move the screen further away from yourself.
KT: To summarise: Trying to control your thoughts is futile but being aware of them and how you react to them can be the difference between winning and losing, correct?
RH: Correct Kris.
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