Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Familiarity Zone

In training my coaches, Steve Fox and Andre Daltrey, have always taken great delight in taking and keeping me out of my comfort zone. They never allow me to be comfortable; never allow me to have any train of thought, keeping me guessing and on my toes – at every stage during my intense training they keep me completely guessing on a physical, technical and mental level.

The reason for this is that we train how we fight. Memory is state dependent, meaning you recall your learning in the state in which it was learned. This is why SWAT teams in the States are ‘beasted’ up and down stairs carrying sand bags, ordered around before they are run ragged, totally confused – and then they have to perform their required tasks in training. This ensures that they can easily remember their training under pressure, and perform when they need it most.

And then we realized something. Having been ‘out’ of my comfort zone for so long, actually being out of my comfort zone had become my comfort zone! So we started thinking, and the concept of the ‘familiarity zone’ took shape, where Steve and Andre would never allow me to be familiar with any aspect of my training. In this way I’ve basically become ready for anything in the fight arena, constantly being forced to adapt in all areas of my game each and every session.

Unless shown a better option, the human mind will always return to what it is familiar with. So in fighting if you train easy you will go to pieces under pressure. You will try to respond but trying isn’t achieving. You will only have what you are familiar with to return to.

So my advice (based on my own experience and further learning around this subject) is to make you performing at your best what you are most familiar with. Pressure test every element of your game to ensure that your familiarity zone is one where you are the very best you can be.

And this goes for any area of your life where performance is required – sport, business, lifestyle – anything.

Isn’t it better to be the best you can be, rather than just comfortable?

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