Friday, May 22, 2015

The Zone - The Space For Optimal Performance - PT 1

If you have been a fan of the NBA this year you have seen Stephan Curry of the Golden State Warriors have one of the most amazing seasons in recent NBA history. His outstanding play not only lifted the Warriors to the best record in the NBA, it earned him the NBA MVP award as well.
Curry is an outstanding player but on certain nights his play seems effortless. His ball handling skills and ability to make shots makes it seem like the game is in slow motion and the rim is 20 feet in diameter. In one game, Curry was so hot, he took a deep range game winning three point shot and while the ball was in the air he turned towards his bench with his arm in the air indicating victory.  Two seconds later the ball went through the net and the Warrior’s won!
What I just described for you is something that is not exclusive to the top professional athletes or even high ranking officials or business executives.  Steff Curry had found “The Zone.”   While most of us will never hit a game winning shot in the NBA, the good news is we can all experience “The Zone” in the things we choose to do including sports, work or other activities we participate in.
While we talked in recent weeks about The Zone diet being a healthy balance of protein, good fats and good carbohydrates that provides nutrition for optimal performance, the Zone I am referencing here is the ability to perform at your highest level in any activity you participate in. The Zone is a higher consciousness and intense level of engagement that allows for this optimal performance but unfortunately, most people that experience the Zone get there by accident.
Michael Lardon, M.D. has spent much of his professional life working with athletes and studying scientific research to better understand the Zone and what leads athletes and others the ability to experience the Zone in regular intervals.  Dr. Lardon has identified ten essential characteristics that the world’s greatest athletes possess that enable them to perform at optimal levels while allowing them to transcend distractions and everyday challenges that could potentially hinder their performance.
The research Dr. Lardon conducted UCSD and Scripps Research Institute suggested four characteristics that people experienced when they were in the Zone.  (1) Super concentration or complete mental absorption in a task; (2) the experience of time slowing down; (3) a sense of detachment from outside influences; and (4) a resulting super-normal performance.
Dr. Lardon continues to state that the Zone is less about human physiology, and more about human determination and will. Think about a time when you ran your best race or the project you were working on at your job seemed effortless and time flew by.  This is the Zone.
Next week I will discuss the ten elements Dr. Lardon identifies as necessary to help you experience the Zone more frequently to help you achieve optimal performance in your selected sport, work or other activity.  Until then, if you want to see the Zone in action, I recommend you catch a Warrior’s playoff game on television and watch how Stephan Curry masters the Zone!

HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE! Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.  He is a member of the 2015 QT2 Systems Advanced Team.