Getting In The Zone

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Getting In The Zone

Michael Jordan, not known as a three point shooter, hitting a record 5 three pointers in the first half of game 1 in the NBA Fiuals series versus the Portland Trailblazers… Tiger Woods shooting a record 270 at the 1997 Masters finishing 12 strokes ahead of the rest of the field… Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, marking the secoud highest point total ever scored in an NBA contest, marking perhaps and the second best overall performance in NBA history…. these are all examples of that sports phenomenon known as “the zone”. A great many athletes, perhaps including yourself, have experienced this state at one time or another. It is that natural flow-like state where thought and consciousness fade into the moment leaving no room for analysis or doubt. It is a state where confidence is replaced by a knowing awareness and every move you make is perfection. You are in the right place on the court or field, the goal looks 20 feet wide, you can anticipate your opponents moves before they act and whatever you do is assured success. So what exactly causes this phenomenon and more importantly, how can one return to that zone state again?

What is “The Zone”

“The zone” has been described by psychologists as a state in which the cerebrum, the conscious or thinking part of the brain, is “shut off” or transcended and the cerebellum is dominant. The cerebellum is that part of the brain which controls motor functions and where neural pathways are fomed. When in “the zone”, the body is allowed to respond intuitively, thus managing more complex functions with an efficiency that the analytical mind simply cannot imitate. Sports announcers when witnessing such trancendant performances have been known to exclaim “he’s unconscious”, which it turns out is a very accurate description of the state.

When in the zone, athletes have described having an energized focus, a complete immersion in the moment and effortless success. Sport psychologists have additionally suggested that when in this state, the body functions at a higher level of physical coordination. Pele’, the great Brazilian soccer legend, described the zone as “…a strange calmness a kind of euphoria…I felt I could run all day without tiring, that I could dribble through any of their team or all of them, that I could almost pass through them physically.”

How can I get in “The Zone

So how does one experience this natural high known as the zone? The science explaining the zone state is helpful in this determination. Understanding the zone to be a state in which the cerebellum is dominant, suggests that properly programming that part of the brain is a vital step. This is where training comes into play. We have previously discussed the importance of mental training such as rehearsal and visualization, and physical training is equally important in that they both create the muscle memory or neural pathways on which the cerebellum relies. Therefore a great effort should be put towards perfecting your body through conditioning and mastering the fundamentals of your sport. The more one masters thier sport’s fundamentals to the point it becomes ’second nature’, the more confident that athlete will become, and the less he/she will have to think his/her way through a sports performance.

Negative thoughts and perhaps thoughts in general are the most common barrier to achieving the zone state. The more confidence an athlete has, the less influence negative thoughts can have and the less the cerebrum is involved in general, the higher the potential for the cerebellum to take over.

Assistance in Achieving “The Zone” state

Another very effective method of moving past the thinking mind to acheive the zone state is through hypnosis. Many sports stars have utilized this method to stunning results. Oue such accouut was told about a former San Diego Rockets basketball player Jim Barnett.

In the season of 1970, Barnett in the midst of an awful shooting slump, sought help through hypnosis. Once under the influence of hypnosis, The psychologist suggested to Barnett that he would score 40 points in his very next game. After scoring 19 points in the previous three contests while shooting poorly, Barnett in his next game not only scored 42 points, but connected on 78% of his shot attempts, successfully breaking out of his slump. There are respected sports psychologists in the field who have been known to help athletes realize similair results in aclieiviug “the zone” state. For an athlete seeking to get in the zone aud stay there, the mental, physical and psychological approaches when used together can create fantastic results.

For an athlete seeking to get in the zone and stay there, the mental, physical and psychological approaches when used together can create fantastic results. Hypnosis has helped many a professional athlete realize similair results to Barnett and acheive “the zone” state consistently and enable athletes and individuals to self induce enhanced states of mind for sports or life.

The theme of is to give an athlete the education and resources to obtain that needed edge over competition, while optimizing overall health and well-being holistically. Contributors to the Alpha consist of professionals in the areas of nutrition, personal training, coaches and sports and fitness enthusiasts.

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Presence is a feature of performance, particularly theatre performance, which is notoriously difficult to define, and appallingly difficult to teach. As a quality it is instantly recognisable, yet seems to be additional to simple technique or skill. In fact presence is what distinguishes an excellent performance from a display of skill. In some ways presence is analogous to the condition in sport of being in the zone, in which the athlete has an unproblematic sense of mastery, which shows itself as peak performance on the field. It is an article of faith in many sports that at the peak of the profession skills and technique are a necessary but insufficient factor, what wins or loses is the mindset of the athlete on the day. It is the athlete that is in the zone, that is most present that wins. The challenge facing the teaching of presence is to identify the mindset of those who do have presence and reproduce it in a training regime. Many actor training systems attempt this through physical and mental exercise routines which are intended to have certain specific effects on the actor. Some of these effects are simply physical, the actor becomes more supple, more in control of their posture and gestures etc. In addition, however, some of these training techniques seem to be intended to subtly alter the mindset of the performer, particularly the subjectively experienced relationship of the actor to the wider world in which they feel themselves to be lodged.
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