Before any advice is given to the athlete, a few questions should be asked to 1) gain further information and 2) build a rapport with the athlete. These questions would inquire of their athletic history, goals, past experiences with sport psychology techniques, past experiences regarding refocusing, what do they mean when they mean by "zone", insights to what they think the problem is, what they've tried to do to remedy the problem.
After listening to these concerns, the sports psychologist may ask the athlete to describe the feeling they had when they were in their "zone". The sports psychologist could reflect on what the athlete has said or ask the athlete to clarify certain details of what they have described so the sports psychologist can 1) gain understanding of the athlete's problem 2) have the athlete review this feelings 3) assures the athlete the sports psychologists have understood what was expressed.
Next, the sports psychologist could ask the athlete to explain what they feel is the problem. The sports psychologist may ask the athlete how they feel when performing. Again, the sports psychologist can reflect and comment so the sports psychologist may have a better understanding of their problem. At this point, sports psychologist would ask the athlete specifically if they feel their problem may be "such and such", depending on the information the athlete has shared. After the sports psychologist and the athlete have discussed the possible causes of the problem, the sports psychologist should follow up by asking the athlete what they think the appropriate steps are in combating their problem. This may be facilitated by asking the athlete to recall what steps had or had not worked in the past in similar circumstances.
It is best if the athlete could formulate an opinion of his own. As a consultant, the sports psychologist would attempt to guide the athlete to plausible and practical solutions. These solutions may incorporate mental exercises or certain rituals depending on the suspected problem. The athlete may have to learn how to refocus on doing their job, the process of performing. The athlete must be encouraged to shift the focus away from winning and toward doing their best. The athlete must learn to deal with expectations of themselves and others. Perhaps the athlete has demands placed on him from coach, family, teammates, friends, or fans. Perhaps the athlete will benefit from visualization of successful performances, arousal control through relaxation, self talk, or further counseling. The possibilities are numerous. It is important to leave many of the decisions up to the athlete. The sports psychologist can act as a catalyst by:
- encouraging the athlete in becoming their best;
- reflecting issues, concerns, and possible solutions of the athlete;
- teaching the athlete what specific methods are available.