Staying on the Path of the High Performance Pyramid: Playing in the Zone
Playing in the zone is one of those blurry concepts athletes talk about with expressions like being in sync, in the groove, or playing in a trance. Sport psychologists describe it with such adjectives as tension free, total focus, totally engaged, and in-flow.
Entering the zone is an internal developmental process where technique and imagination merge, which doesn’t happen by chance, although it seems like it when there.
Perhaps one of the attributes of the most successful athletes, and the best players at your club, is being able to recognize when they’re getting close to the zone and to just sit back and let their games emerge.
Surely, we would all like to be in the zone for an entire round, or tournament, but it just doesn’t happen that way. But by staying on the path and committing to the concepts and skills within each of the Pyramid’s quadrants, you can reach two important goals.
One, you’ll find that in the zone play to be within reach. And two: While in the zone play can come and go, the skills acquired within each layer are steadfast and are the precursors to high performance.
By thinking in terms of these performance levels on the path, you can identify a hierarchy of skills associated with high performance. That’s where the idea of the performance pyramid came from: associating higher levels of play with developing specific skills.
Check out the Pyramid !
Concepts and skills are described within each of the quadrants. Their applied benefits are listed in the left and right margins.
Building the quadrants on the path to your pyramid of high performance:
Regardless of golf instruction and equipment marketing schemes, there simply are no shortcuts to high performance. With the new age of advanced technology, club fitting and technique teaching have reached extraordinary levels of competency and are fundamental keys for building a Pyramid’s solid foundation. Note, though, that competency is manifest only in the hands of the enlightened coaches and teachers who ascribe to a slow, steady ascent to high performance while guiding you through all the stops along the path.
Once technique settles in and the right clubs are in your bag, it’s on to developing quality practice regimens. As we’ve stated often quality practice is the common denominator among athletes who steadily improve. It’s knowing the difference among, technique, simulated and inner game practice, and systematically applying each so technique is learned; it’s trusted and ably performed in competition situations.
Next comes your performance package. Fail safe pre, post and in between shot routines are learned and put into practice.
Further up the path you’ll add management of your thoughts and emotions.
With these skills set, you’re inching up the path toward high performance where trust opens the door to the “zone.” Trust is swinging without conscious thought. It’s turning each shot over to the mind of imagination; the mind that feels the rhythm and tempo of a swing and sees the images of shots in advance. It feels balance, anticipates the sound, and instinctively feels the full flush of impact as it calculates distance, direction and speed.
Now it’s at the top of the pyramid, the zone.
While in the zone you’re in automatic as your brain works quickly and smoothly with the body. That’s one of the reasons we play our best golf when we give up trying to control of our movement and just let the automatic part of the brain figure out how to get it done.
As you view the Pyramid of High Performance study carefully each concept. From the foundation where technique and goal setting reside, to the top of the pyramid, concepts are systematically layered and traversed …no shortcuts…no skipping ahead.
The beauty of the Pyramid of High Performance IS NOT: “I’ve done everything now and in the zone play will arrive on cue.” IT’S: I’m on the path. I’m committing to each of the concepts along the way. I’m gradually improving. I’m punching through the ceilings of each layer to the next. I know now that the zone comes and goes, but if I stay on the path I’ve got a good chance of reaching high performance. That’s where I want to be!”