Frank Chen

Frank Chen

getting into the zone cannot be forced

When you're in the zone, you have switched from a training mode to a trusting mode. You're not fighting yourself. You're not afraid of anything. You're living in the moment, in a special place and time. As a certified hypnotist, I see similarities between people who are in a trance and those in a performance zone. At age thirteen, Tiger Woods worked with a sports psychologist who taught him how to use hypnosis to block out his conscious mind and to strengthen his resolve and focus. Skills in hypnosis helped the young golfer go to such deep levels of concentration that he couldn't remember making certain shots.

The harder you try to get into the zone the further away you get. The zone is the reward for all your hard work and preparation. Just go with the flow and enjoy the moment.

Sports is a roller-coaster. It's a series of performance peaks and valleys, ups and downs, twists and turns. If an athlete's best day is a "zone" experience then the worst day is one in which he or she is muddled in a slump - a natural cycle in sports. While we associate the word slump with baseball, athletes in all sports experience times when they feel as if they can't do anything right.

Sports is filled with ups and downs. Remember the first rule of holes is to stop digging. Go back to basics and keep things simple.

  1. Less can be more. Sometimes the highest form of action is inaction. Athletes require rest and recovery time. Without it, they become stale, burned out, and more susceptible to injuries.

  2. The harder you try to get into the zone the further away you get. We talked about this in the "white moments" section. Train hard, but then let the performance flow naturally. Don't try to make something happen, just trust your stuff and let it happen.

  3. Over-control gets you out of control. Or you can gain control by giving up control. When pitchers become too cautious and controlling with their pitches they often start aiming and steering the ball with unhappy results. Performance improves when they surrender to the process.

  4. Fear of failure makes failure more likely. Fear creates tension and affects coordination and rhythm. The chances of success are diminished. Oftentimes a team that puts together a winning streak becomes preoccupied with not losing.

  5. The probability of getting the outcome you want increases when you let go of the need to get it. The more you want to achieve a goal, the more expectations you place upon yourself. Greg Norman wants to win the Masters more than any other tournament. He may want to win too badly, which, some theorize, is the biggest reason why he hasn't, despite coming very close. Give yourself permission to win, but then let go of the idea of winning and focus on execution and the process.

  6. While you must be present to win, you also have to be absent to win. Athletes who experience those "white moments" lose their conscious mind. They are wrapped in a cocoon. They are living in the moment.

Source: Mind Gym by Gary Mack

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