ZONE (Zeroing Out Negative Effects) is a method of biofeedback training for optimal athletic performance. ZONE is designed to improve athletes’ responses to stress, anxiety, and loss of concentration during competition. In the training environment, when the user successfully attains an optimal target state of psychophysiological functioning, the technology informs and/or rewards the user through real-time physical changes in the athletic equipment. For example, in the training setting, a golfer can work toward optimal concentration in the act of putting, leading to improved performance in real situations.

The system uses perturbation feedback to help the athlete get into “the zone” and to help the trainee to learn physiological self-regulation in order to modify the difficulty of the performance task and/or environment in which training is conducted. The technology incorporates software and hardware to provide real-time feedback to the athlete about how close his or her arousal and emotive responses are to an optimal state required to successfully perform the athletic task.

This innovation presents the capability to extend current sports training and psychological practices of guided imagery visualization and cognitive reinforcement learning by systematically providing demonstrable and relevant feedback through the use of closedloop, cybernetic feedback principles.

This work was done by Antony Jalink, Joel S. Levine, and Robert G. Bryant of Langley Research Center. For further information, contact the Langley Innovative Partnerships Office at (757) 864-8881. LAR-16256-1