Get in the Flow to Get in the Zone

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Most athletes are familiar with the phrases in the flow or in the zone. Many people who play sports search endlessly to achieve the zone state but when a client calls me and informs me that being the zone is one of their goals I usually say, Thats not the best goal you could have. They are often surprised by this comment and respond with, Why? I thought the goal was to get into the zone as much as possible! I then reply, The zone is a great place to be but let me ask you one question. How long have you been searching for this thing we call the zone? At this point there is some sarcastic laughter and they answer, A long time, I guess.
 
Are you on a never ending search to find the elusive zone? The reason I say its not the best goal is because the zone state is not something we can make happen by trying. Look at your own experience and you may find that when you try to be in the zone you usually arent. The peak performance zone most often written about is that high performance state where everything seems to work smoothly, confidence is extremely high and you move through all obstacles with ease and grace. Who wouldnt want to be in that state? The problem is: this high performance zone state comes and goes on its own timetable. We dont know when its going to kick in or when its going to leave. Havent you found that to be true? This is why I believe its not the most effective goal and my clients support this when they look back over their experience and realize they are like the dog chasing the rabbit at the track. It never quite gets there.
 
A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE
I consider the Mental Game to be made up the mind, body, emotions and spirit of a person. In my opinion the peak zone state occurs when these 4 elements are in-synch. I call these the 4 Quadrants of Energy and Performance (a.k.a The 4 Quads ) and when they are in tune you are in the flow. When you are in the flow you set the stage for the peak zone to appear and when it does its just icing on the cake! You go with it as long as it lasts because it will go away. Stop trying to make the zone happen and focus on the connection between the 4 Quads!
 
Here are some suggestions:
 
1. Focus on Rhythm
The golf swing is all rhythm and timing. When you practice just focus on rhythm. Feel it, sense it and rehearse it. Dont focus on power or distance just the demonstration of rhythm. Where there is rhythm there is flow
 
2. Breathe, Breathe and Breathe some more
Youve heard it a million times and theres a reason for that! The majority of my clients STILL dont practice it even though they know the importance and impact it can have on their performance. Deep breathing indicates your body, mind and emotions are more calm which means there is increased energy flow. When there is increased energy flow, guess what? Yes, you increase the flow state and when this happens people tend to improve focus, relaxation and their ability to adapt to stress or pressure.
 
3. Develop Physical Flexibility
The flow occurs when you are open and flexible in your body. The first 2 steps above help support this and anything you can do to keep your muscles flexible supports this process. Flexible muscles reduce tension and stiffness which allows more energy to flow through your system. Are you getting the connection to all of this yet? Consult The Golf Channel Health/Fitness Consultants Kelly Blackburn and Katherine Roberts for more info.
 
Get into the flow and then you can enter the zone!
 
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    Copyright 2006 David Breslow is a Speaker/Facilitator/Performance Coach who works with Athletes (PGA/LPGA) and businesses to help people perform at the top of their game. His approach is not business as usual and creates faster shifts in how people think, feel and perform every day. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio and has spoken to both large and small corporations across the country. To get more information or reach David call: 847.681.1698 or email: David@theflowzone.net or visit the web: www.theflowzone.net.