The Play Zone: A Neurophysiological Approach to Our Highest Performance

Course Price


Course length

5 hours

About the course

The intervening variable between our highest potential and our performance when it really matters is our bodily state. When we become aware that our body’s unconscious reactions follow a predictable sequence of survival, we can manage our bodily state to our advantage and optimize our resilience and performance.

The Play Zone develops a functional Hierarchy of Performance that aligns directly with the neurophysiological framework developed by Stephen W. Porges Ph.D. in the Polyvagal Theory. In this course, we will learn how to climb this Performance Hierarchy on demand through a variety of strategies, resources and relationships that utilize the integrated Social Engagement System. Physiologically, we learn how to contain our sympathetic mobilization in enough ventral vagal safety to turn it into play; engage and release our vagal brake; and improve cardiac vagal tone & vagal efficiency - vital components for peak performance on any stage.

This 5-hour training provides 3 hours of on-demand recorded presentations with Michael Allison where he shares his unique application of Polyvagal Theory to performance psychology and deconstructs the theory into an accessible language we can understand and translate not only to performance, but into leading a Polyvagal-informed life. This course includes a 1-hour recorded dialog between Michael Allison and Dr. Porges where they dive into the Play Zone together, and dig deeper into the concepts embedded in this course.  It concludes with a Live 1-hour Q & A session with the course instructor Michael Allison.

Click here to  meet Michael Allison.

Whether you are an athlete, coach, leader of an organization, or performer of any kind - the neurophysiological approach you will learn in this course will improve every aspect of your practice, preparation, performance and adaptability on and off “the court” including your overall health, relationships and quality of life.

Module 1: The Play Zone Introduction - Methodology and Principles of Polyvagal Theory (Michael Allison)

Module 2: A Container of Safety - Developing strategies, resources and relationships to find safety, comfort and control in the most challenging situations and conditions. (Michael Allison)

Module 3: Body, Mind & Belief - A physiological perspective for building mindset, confidence and mental resilience from the inside out. (Michael Allison)

Module 4: A dynamic Play Zone discussion between Michael Allison and Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. exploring the principles of PVT applied to optimizing performance and resilience. (Michael Allison & Dr. Porges)

Module 5:  Q & A with Michael Allison - LIVE - These are the first and last Tuesdays of every month at 11:30am Pacific Time.

Students will have access to the course for 180 days from the date of purchase.

Instructor Information:


Michael Allison

Michael Allison consults with professional, collegiate and high performing coaches, teams, organizations, athletes and performers in a variety of disciplines, as well as corporate executives, leaders and companies. He is a Health & Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist, Post Rehab Specialist and Certified Oxygen Advantage Breathwork Instructor. 

Michael is the creator of The Play Zone ( and author of SMARTER Coaching, a certified behavior change course accredited by the American Council on Exercise. In addition, he is a certified ILS Safe & Sound Provider/Remote Provider and Focus System Training Provider.

With more than 25 years of experience in the fitness & wellness industry, he is the founder (1999) and co-owner of Physical Focus Inc. in Santa Barbara, California  ( and leads a Polyvagal-informed team of personal trainers, fitness instructors, health coaches, nutritionists and body workers.

Most importantly, Michael is a husband of 22+ years to his wife Jamie, a teacher-librarian, and father of two beautiful daughters, Kate (21) and Samantha (17).


Stephen W. Porges, PhD

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium in the Kinsey Institute. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He is the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™, which is used by therapists to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.