By Don Teig, O.D., F.A.A.O.
We’ve all heard great athletes extol the virtues of being in “The Zone” but what is “The Zone” and how do you get into it? Let’s explore some common denominators. Athletes report the following when they are in “The Zone.” :
“I am hyper-aware of what I’m seeing!”
“I am not at all thinking about my body or fundamentals or technique”
“Objects appear larger. The baseball looks like a cantaloupe!”
“Everything is moving in slow motion.”
“Because all is programmed within my brain, I perform with little stress.”
“ I have a mild adrenalin rush.”
“I am in THE ZONE!”
Sports Optometrists and Psychologists contend that any athlete can train for the zone. The technical term is Cybernetics or programming yourself for success through visual and mental picturing. Your body will learn what you tell it to do if you learn how to tell it. First get your body to reach what science calls the “Alpha State”. This is a higher level of suggestibility, which heightens relaxation and concentration. How can you achieve your “Alpha State” in your quest to get in “The Zone”? Follow these four easy steps:
- Progressive Relaxation – Sit or lie down with your legs uncrossed. Eliminate all distractions. Now, alternately tense and release your body starting with your facial muscles and arms and working your way down to your toes. Use a four count for each tensing and relaxing move.
- Deep Breathing – Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Visualize that you are starting from your diaphragm and working your way up to your chest as if your torso were filling up like a glass of water. Exhale through your mouth as if you were emptying that glass of water. Repeat five times.
- Positive Affirmations – Count backward from 10 to 0, pretending that you are walking down a flight of stairs. With each step, repeat in your head a word that means relaxation. For example, “ I’m on step 10 and I’m going to step 9. I feel calm. I’m on step 9 and I’m going to step 8. I feel at ease. And so on until you reach the bottom of the stairs in your mind’s eye.
- Your “Safe Place” – Vividly imagine a place (real or imaginary) that makes you feel calm and content. Utilize all of your senses to picture this place.
By now, you should have achieved the “Alpha State”. Now, visualize the best putt you have ever made on the golf course, the best serve you have ever achieved on the tennis court.
As with everything in life, practice makes perfect! If you stick to it, you may find that magic “Zone” that the great ones have found!
Photo: Copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo
Having retired from private practice this year, I am actively traveling the country training practices on how to incorporate the Sports Vision / High Performance Vision niche into their array of specialty services. I am also the Executive Director of a national group of practices who have been trained in this specialty. We call ourselves “The A Team” – High Performance Vision Associates. For more information on my Consulting Program or “The A Team” I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or DonTeig@HighPerformanceVisionAssociates.com.