“The Zone”– we’ve all heard of it , but few understand it. Have you heard the phrase, “They were playing in the zone” before? It’s possible that you may have even experienced “The Zone” either on or off of a golf course.
Almost every sport has moments where certain players seem to play “out of their mind” and perform at levels that are almost unimaginable. In basketball, for instance, Michael Jordan was known to comment after some of his performances, saying, “I’m just not sure what happened. I just let it happen.” Jason Day takes it a step further, having been trained to access certain parts of his subconscious mind, he’s learned to eliminate distractions and trust his swing. He’s also been known to state that sometimes he doesn’t quite remember playing a certain shot at a certain time. That’s when you are truly in “present moment” focus and engaged in what you are doing at that moment. That’s the state where you are in a “flow”, or what the masses know as “The Zone”.
The same performance state has been described by players such as Al Geiberger and Chip Beck who both scored 59 in PGA Tournament play. “The Zone” has been the study of sports psychologists and peak performance coaches just for quite some time. There has been an exhaustive study on both the physical and the psychological components that are a part of being in “The Zone”. Those studies have produced great progress in developing and understanding this performance phenomenon. And the more you know about the mental processes that help you achieve this optimum performance state, the greater are your chances at accessing it consistently, which will absolutely help you improve your golf game.
Most professionals would agree on one principle and that is simply that “The Zone” cannot be entirely controlled or accessed at will, although training and techniques have advanced and can help improve the chances of accessing it. There are clear-cut factors involving preparation and mental management during actual play that increase the likelihood of finding “The Zone”. The truth is, there comes a time when the golfer must simply wait and allow it to happen. Patience: You have to allow the preparation and skill sets to become a part of you and become almost automatic. Learning coherence and having your subconscious mind create new belief programs will allow you to relax, concentrate, focus and perform.
The important thing to remember is that “The Zone” is a feeling that cannot be consciously created and is controlled completely at a subconscious level. In his fantastic book, Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes, Charles A. Garfield interviewed and created a list of common physical and psychological components with those athletes who have performed and excelled in their sport.
Here are some of the common attributes among those athletes:
A feeling of being mentally relaxed and highly focused.
Concentration that is unusually sharp and a clear mind.
Physically relaxed, the muscles and joints seem to be moving freely and easily accompanied by a feeling of fluid and easy motion throughout the body.
Confidence and optimism.
It’s as if they knew they were going to perform well even before stepping out into the course or field of play. These athletes were focused on the present moment. They were not concerned about the past and were not focusing on the future. They remained ‘process-focused’ and not ‘outcome-focused’ which allowed them to stay in the present moment.
In golf, the most important shot is the one you are making right now.
We have been conditioned throughout our lives to believe that it is always outcome based. It’s either pass or fail, win or lose, fast or slow. You get the idea. We must learn not to be concerned about a previous shot or the shot we haven’t made yet. They also reported a feeling of being highly energized and pumped up, ready to take on the demands required in their respective sports. There was a keen sense of awareness.
Yet, at that moment, they were unaware of their surroundings, yet very aware of what was happening and what needed to be done to win. They were totally in tune with their mental and physical abilities as well as the details of their environment. The athletes reported a feeling of being in control without trying to control what was happening. There was a sense of simply letting it happen rather than trying to force it or will it into being.
One of the most important attributes reported was a feeling of being “in the bubble.” This phrase is sometimes used in golf because of the individuality of the sport. At the highest level in any sport, there are distractions; crowd noise as well as other distractions that are almost uncontrollable. This feeling is almost as if everything else is a million miles away. I have had my subjects report that while they are in trance, they don’t really hear or recognize what is happening around them. They are truly focused inward and are not distracted by anything.
You can get there too.
That’s where we can help. It’s also why we created the Eagle and Pro Series CVR tracks for our clients so we can help them to develop the subconscious belief systems and mental habits to take them to the place where magic happens, “The Zone”.
Once you have listened to all of the training tracks and applied the techniques, you will have substantially improved the management of your mental skills. There will always be a tremendous curiosity about the scientific aspects of reaching this mystery state. The good news is that the more you understand and apply these principles, the more you understand how to improve your game. It’s almost as if you are experiencing a euphoric moment where your body, mind and soul seem to function in a state of unconscious bliss. Golf tends to bring this out of the greatest players. Tiger’s introduction to the philosophy of Zen Buddhism has allowed him to reach the pinnacle of this great game. A great movie about the Zone is “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” Not only is it a great golf movie, there are some fantastic principles that will help you once you have gone through the Mental Edge training program. You might want to also check out “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and “Seven Days in Utopia” which both demonstrate this focused state we are all seeking to achieve in our games. In fact, make that your next personal lesson. To view one or two of those movies to see what you can pick up from the film that you can apply to your game. You may actually surprise yourself!
When you are visualizing or sensing a shot, it is important to bring into play as many senses as possible. You must excite the imagination and stimulate the subconscious to move in the direction of your goals. The more vivid the experience, the more realistic that you can make it in your mind, the more likely it is to happen. See the colors, feel the movement, listen to the sounds, feel the club in your hands; you must completely immerse yourself in the experience. So, what exactly is “The Zone”? Well, it w ill be different for you than it will for someone else. But rest assured, you are being introduced to the latest science, education and subconscious training resources available to help you reach this state. Don’t force it, don’t try to control it. Expect it to happen. Believe it can happen and it will happen. I hope you experience this feeling soon because after all, that’s why you will continue your quest to develop the mental game. It truly is the difference that makes the difference.