The Elusive “Zone” in Sports
DEFINING THE ZONE
This is a state of consciousness where the athlete becomes totally absorbed in what he/she is doing, to the exclusion of all other thoughts and emotions. So, a crucial ingredient of being in the zone is focus. But more than focus, this is a harmonious experience where mind and body are working together effortlessly, leaving the athlete feeling as if something special has just occurred.
The athlete feels very smooth and fluent in her/his sport performance, and their performance is peaking, while at the same time automatic and effortless.
SPECIFIC COMPONENTS OF BEING IN THE ZONE
1.Defining goals and maintaining positive expectations
2.Focused concentration, ignoring distractions
3.Distorted sense of time
4.Sense of personal control over the activity
5.It feels effortless while engaging in the sport
A whole host of professional athletes in all sports attribute their success to learning how to get into and stay in the zone. For Alex Rodriquez, for example, he has learned to visualize exactly what he wants to do with each at bat and he repeats the same mantra to himself, "I hit solid with an accelerated bat head." A-Rod estimates that he has repeated the same mantra at least 10,000 times over his professional career.
THE GOOD NEWS
Simply put, the good news is that any athlete can learn the skills and discipline to get into and stay in the zone. So getting into and staying in the zone is not as elusive as most athletes think. Often athletes say that they play beautifully in practice, but during games, they are tense or distracted. This is exactly why "the zone" seems elusive to so many athletes. Finding and staying in the zone requires freedom from distractions and razor sharp focus on the task at hand.
In addition, the athlete must trust her/his body and skills and "let it happen," rather than over-analyzing every move, situation or point. One of the quickest ways to learn these skills is with the aid of self-hypnosis, probably the most powerful skill and athlete can learn.