Sports Psychology Being in the Zone
Concentration is never lost, it is only redirected. On the golf course I wasn’t thinking about my credit cards being maxed out –,000 in credit card debt. I wasn’t thinking about my Uncle going in and out of the hospital with Alzheimer’s, or that no one could figure out how to pay for it. I wasn’t thinking about my girlfriend being hospitalized the night before, or that my business partner and I had just been stiffed for ,000. On the golf course I am just another guy with his own set of problems and his own set of clubs. On the course it was just my processes, the ball, and me. For the next few hours I could leave it all behind and find peace.
Granting ourselves permission to be in the moment is something we can achieve through practice–we cant control our thoughts at all times, but we can learn to live in the moment, especially if we practice.
The funny thing about golf is that most people devote hours on end to the physical aspect and pay little attention to their mental game.
They don’t learn how to control their mind: the captain of their ship. So even when their physical game is peaking their mental game remains erratic from hole to hole.
However, when you do learn these practices you’ll find that after losing concentration and being able to re-center your thoughts and come back to the present you’ll feel empowered. Thinking, Wow, I lost myself there for a moment, and now I am going to take this shot the way I know how to take this shot, feels good. This and other practices are what the psychologically prepared golfer does to maintain flowing concentration. This is where I like to live. This is my favorite place, my favorite state of mind.
The ultimate objective during athletics is getting in the zone. In the opinion of this Sports Psychologist, there are few feelings in the world that even compare. To paraphrase Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, when you are in the zone you are living completely in the present moment, your sense of time can become totally distorted, your ability to hit the ball where you desire is in your complete control, nothing is bothering you, nothing is going on in your brain except you and the game, your concentration level is optimum.
This feeling is what golf is all about. This is why we spend hours upon hours trying to hit a little white ball 450 yards into a little cup, because we all want that feeling. We all want to get in the zone, even if only for a few minutes. That feeling of bliss, is like you were kissed by an angel; life is perfect when you’re in the zone.
Take notice of how all little kids think, in the moment; it is the natural way to think and live. It isn’t until we get older that we stray from this natural flow of thinking and cripple ourselves with mere analytical thinking. Though analytical thinking has its place, it isn’t always the best frame of mind and it certainly isn’t how you get in the zone!