How can I get in the zone for a competitive sports performance and avoid distractions?
I would suggest the following 9 techniques based on what I’ve learned in the field of sports performance:
• Be prepared. Practice. Put yourself in a position to win.
• Slow breathing to relax
• Attention & focus (mentally prepare before the tournament happens)
• Visualization of winning
• Positive self-talk/Optimism
• Mindfulness, Yoga, etc.. You could also try tensing and relaxing.
• Be the winner. Act confident. Dress confidently.
• Create a soundtrack in your mind which is comforting (this is a bit like singing in the shower)
Some of this echos what Hemanshu Desai said above. When all else fails music and ear plugs. You could also focus in an environment similar to the one you will encounter in the real world. You may not want to do this all the time, but may help to provide you with strategies for your chess tournaments. Finally, investigate books on sports performance and mental preparation written by athletes, coaches, or even chess players (aka the mental game of performance).